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Co-op refinery workers in Regina back to work after two sides agree to new deal

The labour dispute between the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) and Unifor Local 594, the union representing its workers, is over. Mark Taylor / The Canadian Press

The six-month labour dispute between Regina’s Co-op Refinery Complex and Unifor Local 594, representing 730 workers, is officially over.

On Monday, Unifor announced its members ratified the tentative agreement, which was agreed upon last week. Eighty-nine per cent of members voted in favour of the new deal.

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

“Our members and their bargaining committee held firm throughout a difficult, protracted and often bitter negotiation process,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president.

“In the end we were successful in protecting their retirement security and in achieving the national wage pattern, but this result could have been reached far earlier if the mediator recommendations had been enforced by Premier Scott Moe.”

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The new deal maintains the defined benefit pension with the CRC agreeing to match employee savings plan for existing workers, Unifor released in a statement on Monday.

CRC said employees will have to contribute 50 per cent to their defined benefit pension and also have the option to move to a defined contribution pension.

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

It also said the agreement included wage improvements that match the national pattern.

Workers will receive a wage increase of 11.75 per cent over four years. Employee’s company matched savings plan is reduced to four per cent instead of 6.5 per cent.

“We didn’t seek this work stoppage. Now that it’s finally been resolved, our members are looking forward to returning to their jobs and getting back to work,” said Kevin Bittman, Unifor Local 594 president.

“It will be hard going back into the workplace for some of us, but we will do it with our heads held high because we stood in solidarity for one another.

“This has been the toughest period in our history, but we will be stronger because of it.”

The agreement is a seven-year deal and will see employees begin to return to work over the next couple of weeks.

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

“We are sincerely pleased that our employees are returning to work after more than six months off the job,” said Gil Le Dressay, refinery operations vice president.

“This labour disruption was a difficult period in our history, but I believe that we will emerge from this a stronger team and organization.

“The Union has been our partner in fuelling Western Canada for more than 75 years, and they will be our partner for generations into the future.”

CRC locked out its employees on Dec. 5, 2019.

— A division of Unifor represents some Global News employees.

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Regina’s Co-op Refinery Complex, Unifor Local 594 reach tentative agreement – Jun 18, 2020