Regina refinery issues lockout notice after workers approve strike mandate
The refinery, reacting to a strike notice, is saying a labour disruption would cause an unsafe working environment
REGINA – The Federated Co-operatives Limited refinery in Regina has issued a lockout notice to its union workforce that is to go into effect at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Gil Le Dressay, vice-president of operations at the refinery, said the company is taking action after Unifor Local 594 issued strike notice. He said a labour disruption would cause an unsafe working environment.
“It is vital to the safety of our operation that we control the timeline of labour action, as our highly-skilled management team assumes control of the refinery’s operation,” Le Dressay said.
“This also allows us to maintain a reliable supply of fuel to 170 local Co-ops and their communities across Western Canada.”
Unifor Local 594 represents more than 700 workers at the facility.
Local president Kevin Bittman said the union provided Co-op with a notice for job action after its members overwhelmingly voted in favour of a strike mandate.
Union members voted more than 97 per cent in favour of a strike to back contract demands on Monday.
Bittman said job action could have meant no longer working overtime. He said the union sent the notice hoping it would put pressure on the company to take concessions off the bargaining table.
“We also gave them a letter saying that … we’re concerned a little bit about the public safety and that we’re willing to, you know, do what it takes to help the company shut down the units and put them into a safe spot before we would go out on a line,” he said Tuesday.
The company said it was disappointed the union provided the notice and urged it to continue negotiations.
Mandatory mediation ended Nov. 12, when Unifor said the company was continuing to demand pension “rollbacks” and other concessions.
Unifor declared an impasse in contract negotiations in September, which led to the appointment of a mediator.