author: alexa lawlor | staff writer
Co-op refinery still in talks with union
Regina’s Co-Op Refinery workers rejected the company’s final offer in a vote on Monday, March 20, 2017. Discussions between the refinery and the union have been taking place since December 2015, and their agreement expired in January 2016. Unifor Local 594 represents 800 refinery employees, and recommended the rejection of the deal.
A cooling off period, which ends on Thursday, March 30, will follow the vote. After that, the possibility opens for a strike or lockout.
In response to the rejection of the offer, Brad DeLorey, director of communications and public affairs for the Co-Op Refinery, says, “We are very disappointed that the union has rejected our last final offer [sic]. We believe that we put a very fair and competitive deal in front of our members that did not involve any rollbacks. It actually involved wage increases, further job security, and no monetary concessions for our existing workforce.”
The cooling off period ensures that until after March 30, 2017 at midnight, neither side can place a strike or lockout notice. After the end of this period, a notice may be issued within 48 hours by either side.
When asked about the potential of a strike or lockout, Brad DeLorey mentioned that he really cannot speculate on whether or not one will occur, but that “there is still time for both sides to get together; we’ll have to wait and see.”
However, if a strike were to occur, DeLorey states that the refinery has a plan in place to keep things running smoothly.
“As for anything, we have business continuity plans, and it is our responsibility to provide fuel to our retail system across Western Canada and that’s exactly what we intend to do. We will turn down the facility for volumes that are produced; we will maximize safety over maximizing production. I think that’s very important that we have a highly trained and competent management team that will run this facility in order to secure the product that is needed to fuel Western Canada and particularly here in Saskatchewan, where in a few weeks we will begin seeding.”
As of right now, there is no definite conclusion to the labour dispute between the union and the Co-Op refinery. There is still time for agreements to be made, and until the end of the cooling off period, it is unknown whether there will be a strike or a lockout.
DeLorey, in closing remarks, stated, “If anything, we can never lose sight of the economic engine that we are in the city of Regina and the role that we play in Western Canada. We certainly intend to do that. We’ve had a great relationship—we have great relationships with our union, and we certainly hope that we can get back to our day to day operations.”