Co-op begins rationing fuel at Prairie cardlocks, warns of "periodic fuel outages"


The ongoing labour dispute at the Co-op Refinery Complex at Regina, Sask., has led Federated Co-op Ltd (FCL) to start rationing fuel at some of its cardlock facilities on the Prairies, impacting farmers, emergency services, truckers, and other drivers who normally rely on cardlocks to supply larger quantities of fuel.

A message posted by several regional co-ops at their cardlocks and on their social media accounts says they’ve implemented a daily maximum of 300 litres for diesel and 100 litres for gasoline per card.

“Federated Co-operatives Limited and the Co-op Refinery Complex would like to assure our customers that there is plenty of fuel available,” the note says. “However, Unifor’s illegal blockades are preventing us from getting it to you.”

In a separate statement on Wednesday, FCL said some Co-op gas bars and cardlocks in southern Alberta could also face “periodic fuel outages” this week as a result of the union’s actions.

Employees who are members in Unifor have been locked out of the Refinery since December 5th, the day after they filed strike notice. The union has been blockading truck access to the refinery since January 20th, with a short reprieve on January 31st before negotiations between FCL and Unifor broke down again. Barricades have also been established at FCL’s Carseland, Alta., fuel terminal and other Co-op locations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“By brazenly breaking the law in the face of law enforcement agencies and governments with these illegal barricades, Unifor is challenging the right of our business — and ultimately any business — to operate,” said FCL CEO Scott Banda in Carseland on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Unifor president Jerry Dias said, “Any interruptions in fuel delivery or threats to health and safety are the result of [Banda’s] decision to use unqualified scabs.”

One of the main reasons for the labour unrest was FCL’s proposal to have refinery employees begin contributing a portion of their salaries to their pension.

FCL is challenging the union’s actions in Alberta and Saskatchewan courts this week. Over a dozen Unifor members, including Dias, have been arrested for actions associated with the blockades.

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