Unifor ratifies deal ending Co-op refinery lockout

Unionized workers at the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) at Regina, Sask., will be returning to work over the next few weeks.

Unifor Local 594 ratified a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement on Monday (June 22), ending a six-month lockout of 730 workers by Federated Co-op.

The conclusion to the labour dispute is welcome news for those that rely on Co-op’s fuel supply, as protests by Unifor members had resulted in periodic disruptions and rationing to fuel service at some Co-op fuel facilities across the prairie provinces.

“We are sincerely pleased that our employees are returning to work after more than six months off the job,” says Gil Le Dressay, vice-president, of Co-op’s Refinery Operations, in a statement. “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.”

The new deal maintains a defined benefit pension plan and a company-matched employee savings plan for existing workers — some of the main points of contention.

“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,” says Unifor national president Jerry Dias, who was arrested by Regina Police during a blockade at the refinery in late January.

Federated Co-op says the deal “strikes a much-needed balance between the company’s appreciation for our unionized employees and the fiscal realities of the refining sector.

“This deal, combined with the operational efficiencies the CRC has recently realized, will go a long way in ensuring a sustainable future for the company,” says Federated Co-op.

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