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Running dry: Many Co-op gas stations still without fuel in Winnipeg

Many Co-op stations in Winnipeg were still completely out of gas Friday. Marney Blunt / Global News

Many Co-op gas stations in and around Winnipeg are running on empty.

The fuel shortage comes amid the ongoing labour dispute between Co-op and its workers at a Regina refinery.

READ MORE: Blockades being removed at Co-op refinery on 9th Avenue North: Regina police

Red River Co-op chief executive officer Doug Wiebe says they’re caught in the crossfire.

READ MORE: Most Co-op stations out of gas in Winnipeg due to Regina blockades

“We’re very disappointed and frustrated by what’s transpired, as basically an innocent third party bystander here, we’ve been thrust into this dispute between Federated (Co-op) and Unifor, the union that represents the workers,” Wiebe told Global News.

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“As a result, our 310,000 members are being held hostage by what’s transpired, by not being able to buy fuel from Red River Co-op.”

Click to play video: 'Co-op Refinery asks for precedent-setting fine against Unifor' Co-op Refinery asks for precedent-setting fine against Unifor
Co-op Refinery asks for precedent-setting fine against Unifor – Feb 7, 2020

Wiebe says on Friday, the majority of their 26 locations in Winnipeg had no fuel. Some locations still had diesel, he noted.

“We are working on other means to get fuel to those sites and to get them replenished,” he said. “But that’s going to take some time to get those sites back up and running.”

Wiebe says convenience stores and car washes are still operating, and some locations have temporarily cut back on staffing.

Last week Unifor workers set up blockades at a Co-op fuel station in Winnipeg, stopping only Co-op trucks from entering.

READ MORE: Unifor Local 594 travels to Manitoba, sets up blockade at Co-op fuel station

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Some analysts say the impacts could be far-reaching.

“The terminals that are being blocked by the union in Manitoba and Winnipeg are owned by Imperial and Shell,” GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said. “So this could affect many stations, if not all the stations, in the immediate vicinity simply because those are the only two terminals in Winnipeg.”

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