FCL granted court injunction to stop blockade at Alberta fuel-distribution terminal

Click to play video: 'Federated Co-operatives Ltd. wins injunction against union workers at Alberta terminal' Federated Co-operatives Ltd. wins injunction against union workers at Alberta terminal
WATCH: Federated Co-operatives Ltd. has won an interim injunction against union members, who have blocked access to a fuel terminal near Carseland, Alta. Adam MacVicar reports. – Feb 6, 2020

A Calgary judge has granted Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) a court injunction to stop a blockade set up by Canadian union Unifor at a fuel-distribution terminal near Carseland, Alta.

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The picket line in Carseland began about two weeks ago in support of FCL refinery workers in Regina, Sask.

READ MORE: 4 Unifor Local 594 picketers arrested at Regina’s Co-op refinery: police

FCL complained the blockade is preventing fuel from being delivered to Co-op trucks, causing issues for customers.

According to FCL CEO Scott Banda, the company is rationing fuel at their cardlock stations and gas bars.

But Unifor picketers said those protesting at the Carseland fuel terminal are allowing farmers and those with personal vehicles to access the gas pumps.

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While FCL officials welcomed the news of the injunction, the company isn’t confident the court ruling will be followed.

“While we’re pleased that today’s ruling recognized our right to operate, our fuel trucks won’t be able to move until this interim injunction order is enforced,” FCL CEO Scott Banda said.

“We expect Unifor to abide by the rule of law and Justice Campbell’s ruling immediately, but from what we’ve seen already today, they’re still not allowing our trucks into the Carseland Terminal. It seems that, like in Saskatchewan, they are not going to comply with the law in Alberta.”

READ MORE: ‘Greedy Co-op’ — Unifor launches nationwide boycott of Co-op retailers

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said in an emailed statement he expects the injunction to be followed.

“It is my duty to ensure that the law is followed, the administration of justice is upheld, and that public safety is maintained,” he said.

“While law enforcement is responsible for their operational decisions, like all Albertans it is my expectation that the RCMP will enforce the law.

“And while all Canadians have a right to protest in a legitimate fashion, breaking a court order is a violation of the law.”

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On Thursday, a judge determined the blockage was unlawful, saying the picketers created a threatening and intimidating environment for people looking to enter the terminal.

The judge said picketers are still allowed to be at the fuel terminal, but can’t block access or interfere with anyone looking to enter or leave. In addition, fences erected around the facility by picketers must come down.

According to those on the picket line, the fences were put up for protection after threats and objects were thrown at striking workers.

Click to play video: 'Four arrested Wednesday morning on refinery picket lines' Four arrested Wednesday morning on refinery picket lines
Four arrested Wednesday morning on refinery picket lines – Feb 5, 2020

Although picketers were aware of Thursday’s injunction ruling, the order had not been delivered to the picket line, so those protesting remained status quo.

“Definitely a little bit disappointed that Scott Banda and the other boards of FCL continue to avoid going to the bargaining table and keep tying up courts and trying to use the police force in their benefit to take care of the situation that they should be facing head-on,” Unifor Local 594 refinery worker Derek Emperingham told Global News on Thursday.

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“We’re not really violating any laws that we can see, and we’re just here trying to get our message out and be heard, and trying to get back to the bargaining table.”

Co-op trucks remained stagnant outside the Carseland fuel terminal, with drivers rotating through 12-hour shifts waiting to access the terminal after the court ruling.

Ron Hazelaar, one of the drivers waiting at the picket line on Thursday, is optimistic after hearing the injunction had been granted, but is patiently waiting to see if the picketers will comply with the order.

“We’re happy,” Hazelaar said. “How are these people going to react? I know there’s been court injunctions in Regina as well and they haven’t complied with them, so we’ll see what happens here in Alberta.”

READ MORE: Unifor found in contempt of court, fined $100,000

Alberta RCMP have confirmed to Global News that they have been notified of the ruling.

Although police are on scene at the picket line, officers won’t be delivering the court order due to Judge Campbell’s decision not to include an enforcement clause in the injunction, which would have allowed RCMP to force picketers to remove the barriers.

RCMP officials said officers will only act as enforcement if there is any impact on public safety.

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The labour dispute started at the refinery in Regina in December 2019 when FCL locked out more than 700 workers after they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike.

Unifor represents some Global News employees across the country.

— With files from Lauren Pullen and Michael King 

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