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FCL says no fuel delivery delays for farmers this spring despite labour dispute

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. said farmers can expect their fuel needs to be met this spring despite a labour dispute as they prepare for the seeding season. File / Global News

Farmers should not expect delays in the early delivery of fuel despite a labour dispute, Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) assured them Friday.

FCL and Unifor have been locked in a bitter contract dispute since December when the company locked out workers after the union issued a strike notice.

The company said farmers can expect their fuel needs to be met this spring as they prepare for the seeding season.

READ MORE: FCL compensating truck drivers affected by Unifor blockades

“We understand that seeding is critical for the entire Western Canadian economy — it’s one of the West’s mega-projects,” Ron Healey, FCL’s vice-president of ag and consumer business, said in a release.

“There are no production concerns at the CRC (Co-op Refinery Complex) in Regina and through our extensive fuel distribution network we have positioned fuel to be as close to our farm customers as possible. We’re a trusted partner and are committed to helping producers get their crops in the ground.”

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FCL said it took steps earlier in the dispute to address supply challenges, but did not elaborate on those steps.

The company did say it has invested heavily in infrastructure over the years, giving it what it says is one of the most sophisticated fuel distribution systems in Western Canada.

READ MORE: Unifor establishes ‘illegal’ blockades around Co-op facilities in Yorkton — FCL

Unifor had set up blockades at a number of FCL facilities in Western Canada. The courts have ruled some of those blockades illegal and ordered them removed.

The lockout is now in its fourth month.

The Saskatchewan government has appointed special mediator Vince Ready to meet with the two sides.

Ready has worked in labour relations since 1965 and arbitrated and/or mediated in more than 7,000 labour and commercial disputes in Canada.

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If FCL and Unifor Local 594 fail to reach an agreement, Ready will prepare recommendations for an agreement to the two sides and Saskatchewan Attorney General Don Morgan.

At issue is pension contributions. FCL is asking employees to start contributing to their pension plans, which up until now, they have not done.

READ MORE: Co-op announces fiscal 2019 figures as Unifor labour dispute enters mediation

FCL announced earlier in the week profits of around $950 million for 2019 on $9.2 billion in revenue.

A division of Unifor represents some Global News employees.