Trailers for workers installed as Co-op labour dispute simmers

A representative with the union says workers have been without a collective agreement since last January.

Unifor has been in talks with the refinery since December of 2015

The Co-op refinery confirmed that the trailers were brought in in anticipation of a potential strike or lockout. (CBC Saskatchewan)

The potential for a lockout or strike at Regina's Co-op Refinery looms as the union and company fail to reach a deal.

The refinery brought in 50 trailers on March 8 in response to the potential disruption.

"Trailers will give us the flexibility to manage resources to ensure the safety and reliability in the possible outcome of labour unrest," said Brad DeLorey director of communications and public affairs at the Co-op Refinery.

Kate McKinley, Unifor's national representative, said the union and the refinery have been in discussions since December of 2015, adding that the workers collective agreement expired in January 2016.

Regina's Co-op Refinery is heading to court in October to argue that its Major Hazards Risk Assessment Report should not be publicly released. (CBC)

Next vote on March 20

DeLorey said the Refinery has put its final offer on the table on Sunday night, an offer that Unifor will encourage workers to reject during the next vote on March 20.

"We have put our final offer on the table. There are no monetary concessions being asked of our existing employees," said DeLorey.

According to Unifor, a major sticking point in negotiations is the refinery asking for a different pension plan for new employees.

There's no secret that that place has had a few fires and explosions.- Kate McKinley, Unifors national representative

"We're looking just to maintain the status quo and the national pattern and they want concessions and we're not going there," said McKinley. 

The provincially-appointed mediator "booked out" on Wednesday afternoon, meaning that a 14-day cooling off period began on Thursday lasting until March 30 at midnight. The mediator was provided after impasse was declared following 23 meetings between both sides.

After the cooling off period, a strike or lockout notice could be issued by either side within 48 hours.

McKinley said the Unifor has concerns over public safety should there be a labour disruption.

"There's no secret that that place has had a few fires and explosions," said McKinley.

Unifor 594 represents 800 employees working at the refinery. 

"There's no secret that they've brought in 55 bunk houses," said McKinley. "What they're going to do with them, I mean, we have no idea."

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