Nfld. & Labrador

Union digs in heels over Come By Chance refinery layoffs, North Atlantic complains

The union representing workers at the Come By Chance refinery is insisting on no job losses, a proposition North Atlantic calls unworkable.

Company 'disappointed' with progress on layoff talks

An employee walks the grounds of the Come By Chance refinery in November. (CBC)

The union representing workers at the Come By Chance refinery is digging in its heels on potential job losses, North Atlantic complained Tuesday,

At a meeting between the two sides on Tuesday that aimed to find ways to reduce job losses at the refinery, union representatives told their employer they would only be willing to discuss a commitment to zero job reductions, North Atlantic said.

North Atlantic said it was "disappointed" with the meeting, and called the United Steelworkers's proposal unworkable.

"There must be a reduction in the workforce if the refinery is going to continue to be viable," said Dan Harris, the refinery manager, in a press release.

"We are trying to do the right thing, we expected to discuss with the union today a way forward…but the union is just not interested in doing that."

The owners of the Come By Chance refinery announced plans to lay off about 130 works in November, citing a downturn in the economy and "impending regulatory changes."

In their press release, North Atlantic claimed its current performance was "unsustainable." The company wrote that it currently employs more people than a "lower tier European refinery."

Boyd Bussey, a staff representative with United Steelworkers, said late on Tuesday night that that the company left the barganing table on Tuesday when talks became "bogged down."

But Bussey said the two sides are meeting again in St. John's on Wednesday.