​Unifor tries to shut down Regina refinery; Co-op says union breaking court order

Image source: Federated Co-operatives Limited

A union representing more than 700 workers in a contract dispute at the Co-op oil refinery says it’s going to try to shut down the facility.

Unifor president Jerry Dias says managers and replacement workers at the complex in Regina will be allowed to leave, but the plan is to stop fuel from being transported out of the refinery.

“We're not allowing any trucks in,'' Dias said Monday. “We're going to shut (the refinery) down until they come back to the bargaining table.”

Workers on the picket line successfully blocked a bus filled with replacement staff and managers from entering the refinery, he said, and allowed six trucks to leave.

“Those six trucks are never going back in until this dispute is settled,” he said.

Co-op said the union is violating a court injunction if it blocks entrance points and called the move a bullying tactic.

It said it is currently “exploring all legal options.”

Last month, a judge ruled the union could stop vehicles trying to get in and out of the refinery for a maximum of 10 minutes, so as to provide information on the dispute or until a driver declines the information.

Dias said the blockades don't violate the court order.

``The court injunction was against Unifor Local 594 ... this is being done by the national union and the bodies that we have parachuted into the province.''

Unifor said hundreds of members from across Canada have come to the site to support the refinery workers.

The Regina Police Service asked motorists to avoid the area. It said it's up to both sides to avoid an escalation.

“Police involvement should be a last resort,'' read a statement posted to the service’s Twitter account.

“Unifor members have a right to picket; Co-op has a right to conduct business.”

Workers at the refinery were locked out in early December after the union voted in favour of a strike and issued a notice. The union has launched a national boycott of the facility's owner, Federated Co-operatives Ltd., and picketed at Co-op retailers in Western Canada.

One of the main issues in the labour dispute is pensions.

The workers' last contract expired in February. The union declared an impasse in contract negotiations in September, which led to the appointment of a mediator.

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