Layoffs appear to be coming at the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) in Regina.
Unifor Local 594 president Nathan Kraemer said the company provided formal notice to the union on Thursday that it intends to reduce the number of permanent in-scope positions employed at the refinery.
“(The company) told us that they intend to eliminate … (87) jobs in various areas throughout the plant. They were specific about eliminating actually the top job in our bargaining unit, the master operator position so, among others, but that was one of the ones they specifically named as wanting to eliminate entirely,” Kraemer told Global News on Friday.
“Some (the company’s) just reducing the number of workers in a particular area and … there’s the master operator and the rover that’s two actual job title positions in our contract that they just want to eliminate.
“What would happen, most likely, would it be a bumping and retraining by seniority kind of scenario is what would happen, according to our contract language.”
CRC said the decision is due, in large, part to “operational efficiencies the company has achieved while preparing to shift toward the low-carbon economy.”
“For the most part (the company) say found operational efficiencies during the lockout. So I guess they mean they were able to run with less staff and nothing bad happened. So they consider that the new normal and then they’ve also cited reduced fuel demand because of COVID,” Kraemer said.
“Our position is definitely that no layoffs are necessary. The province is starting to open up again, fuel demand is coming back. Profits in the industry are coming back. There’s ways to save costs and be more efficient and I don’t think it has to be on the backs of nearly 90 workers and families.”
CRC said it’s hoping to reach an agreement with the union that could reduce the number of required layoffs by looking at current vacancies, normal attrition and early retirements.
“We are still trying to talk with the company and reduce or mitigate entirely these layoffs,” Kraemer said.
“We’d like to try to reduce the number of layoffs or eliminate them. I believe the company will continue talking with us but I’m not sure how receptive they’ll actually be to our suggestions and whether we’ll be successful.
“We did kind of both mutually agree to set up a further date. We just haven’t confirmed that yet. It’ll be sometime within the next week, though, for sure.”
Kraemer said the company intends to have layoffs done by the fall, late October.
The Saskatchewan NDP said a jobs plan is needed to help people who are out of work and a plan to protect the local economy.
“It is heartbreaking to hear about layoffs at the Co-op refinery today. These workers have already been through an extremely tough year after having been unfairly locked out of their jobs for months during a pandemic,” read a statement from the official Opposition on Friday.
“Mass layoffs and job losses in our energy sector like this are devastating for families and devastating to our local economy. After a very tough year so many people are struggling. More local layoffs spells trouble for our city and our province.”