Regina’s Co-op Refinery Complex, Unifor Local 594 reach tentative agreement

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WATCH: The labour dispute between Unifor Local 594 and the Co-op Refinery is approaching the 200 day mark. But after six months on the picket line, locked out workers could be back on the job in the near future. Allison Bamford has more – Jun 18, 2020

The labour dispute between the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) and Unifor Local 594, the union representing its workers, may soon be over.

The two sides reached a tentative deal, according to an announcement made by CRC on Thursday.

“This deal, if accepted by bargaining unit employees, along with the operational efficiencies our team has recently realized, will go a long way towards ensuring a sustainable CRC for generations to come,” said Gil Le Dressay, vice-president of refinery operations.

READ MORE: City of Regina inserts itself into Unifor, Co-op Refinery labour dispute

“The labour disruption has been a difficult process for everyone involved, but we are hopeful that the membership will ratify the deal, and our employees will return to work soon. We want to thank our community for their patience and support throughout this process.”

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CRC said the deal includes “the monetary aspects of our best and final offer along with a well-defined return-to-work agreement… and an offer that balances an appreciation for our unionized employees with the fiscal realities of the refining sector.”

“I am so proud of the solidarity, strength and courage of our membership,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 president.

READ MORE: Unifor rejects Co-op’s latest offer, calls on province to end labour dispute

“They never wavered throughout this nasty dispute, and we will always be grateful for the support we received from our Unifor family and the entire labour movement. This was union-busting from an employer that has made billions off of our backs and together we fought and defended our collective agreement.”

Special mediators Vince Ready and Amana Rodgers were appointed by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in February as a way to find a solution to the lockout.

An offer was eventually presented to both parties, with 98 per cent of Unifor Local 594 members agreeing to the deal.

However, CRC rejected the agreement.

READ MORE: Labour dispute continues after Co-op Refinery rejects special mediator’s recommendations

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“There was always a path to a deal,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president. “The provincially appointed mediators’ report provided a basis for a new contract, but this dispute was protracted thanks to interference from the Regina Police Service and the incompetence of Premier Scott Moe.”

Dias credits the tentative deal to the resilience of its members.

“Wealthy corporations have been allowed to act with impunity for too long, exerting their power on workers in order to profit, while eroding wages, pensions, and benefits,” Dias said.

“Unifor members took a stand against this aggression, and Co-op locked them out in the cold. In this fight, we showed that Canada’s workers are united and will fight to defend good jobs, even when governments and police services choose to side with the rich.”

Unifor now needs to hold a ratification vote of its membership to finalize the deal. If agreed upon, CRC said it will begin the process of getting the employees back to work.

CRC locked out its employees on Dec. 5, 2019. Unifor Local 594 represents about 730 CRC employees. The two sides were mainly in disagreement over pensions.

A division of Unifor represents some Global News employees.


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