REGINA, Sask. – After a labor dispute at Regina, Sask.’s Co-Op Refinery Complex resulted in the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) to say picket lines were creating “trucking industry hazards,” a judge has put restrictions on picketing unionized workers locked out of the facility.
With around 800 workers locked out of the refinery after union representative Unifor Local 594 issued a strike notice, Co-Op Refinery claimed picketing workers were engaging in dangerous behavior, including blocking truck traffic, and has filed an injunction.
And fleets servicing the complex appear to be stuck in the middle.
“Trucking companies and their drivers do not make money if the wheels are not turning. These are private companies and STA members that haul for Co-Op and locking them down is having a negative impact,” said STA executive president Susan Ewart. “There are rules about how long drivers can be on duty. As they sit on the side of the road, the hours in which they can earn an income tick away. There is no wiggle room here, once they are out of time, they are out of time and done for the day.”
The STA said drivers are being impacted both in their pocketbooks and the added stress of not being able to complete their duties.
The STA said there have also been reports of drivers being harassed, which is concerning, leaving drivers “frightened and frustrated.”
Unifor has launched a nationwide boycott of Federated Co-Operatives Ltd. (FCL) retailers as a result of the situation at the Regina refinery.
“If Co-op wants to hit refinery workers with a lockout, it’s time to hit Co-Op where it hurts,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “Local Co-Ops must speak out to the FCL board and use their power to end this lock out and get refinery workers a fair contract and the pension they were promised by FCL just two years ago.”
The boycott involves television and radio ads, billboards, direct mail, a petition, and secondary pickets at retail locations across Canada.
“How much profit is enough? Co-Op Refinery clears $3 million every day when Unifor members are on the job. There is no financial case for attacking the hard-earned pensions of refinery workers,” said Scott Doherty, lead negotiator and executive assistant to the Unifor national president. “Co-Op senior leadership is abandoning the principles that attracted Canadians to become members. Now, Canadians deserve to know the unbridled corporate greed that FCL represents today.”
With 26 independent fleets hauling products for the refinery, the STA is urging everyone to respect all workers, saying the trucking industry plays a critical role in the economy and drivers are worthy of respect.
The Co-Op Refinery took Unifor to court Dec. 17, and the matter has been adjourned until Dec. 23 to give Unifor’s lawyers time to prepare.
In the meantime, as part of the limitations set by the judge, picketers are only permitted to communicate with those coming and going from the refinery for a maximum of five minutes.
The refinery lockout has been ongoing since Dec. 5.