Locked out Co-op refinery workers can only hold up trucks for 10 minutes: injunction

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) says it's pleased with the results of a court injunction filed earlier this month limiting the amount of time locked out workers can block truck access to the refinery.

Injunction says picketers can hold trucks for up to 10 minutes unless driver asks to be let through: FCL

Trucks can now enter the Co-op Refinery in Regina without interference according to a court decision published earlier this week. (Aldo Columpsi/CBC)

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) says it's pleased with the results of a court injunction filed earlier this month.

It sets a limit on the amount of time locked out workers can block trucks from crossing the picket lines at the Co-op refinery.

Earlier this week, Justice Janet McMurtry heard from FCL, who filed an injunction claiming the union representing locked out employees had participated in illegal conduct.

In court, the company raised concerns about emergency vehicle access to the 800-acre property.

It claimed Unifor, the union representing the locked out employees, was blocking access to the refinery, causing long lines of trucks to form while waiting to enter the premises.

Unifor's lawyer argued the employer's claims about illegal conduct were unfounded and the union was well within its rights to be picketing and disrupting traffic. 

Unifor's lawyer also argued that in the one instance when an emergency vehicle needed access to the refinery, it was unimpeded and allowed to do so.

In a prepared statement, FCL said it was pleased by the court ruling, which went into effect on Dec. 24.

"The injunction stipulates that picketers can only picket with the purpose to provide information and only may do so for a maximum of 10 minutes," the statement said. 

"The order also stipulates that those crossing the picket lines may request to decline the information at any point during the 10 minute window. They are then free to proceed without interference from the striking workers." 

Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the national president of Unifor, said the union would have like to have seen a longer limit, but that locked-out workers will abide by the injunction.

"At this point in time our members are prepared to live up to the injunction and let people know that what's going on with the lockout and how we want to get back to bargaining table and get a fair deal."

Doherty said there is always tension when there is a picket line, but that for the most part it has been peaceful.

"Unfortunately it's going to take us getting back to the bargaining table to get a deal done, not any court injunction or anything else that Co-op continues to play games with," he said.

Workers at the refinery were locked out on Dec. 5 after negotiations broke down between management and the union. The injunction was filed a day after the union called for a nationwide boycott on Co-ops.

Doherty said worker's spirits are still high despite being locked out over the holidays. He said there are plans to bring in people from across the country to support them.

"I suspect that after the new year you are going to see that ramp up even more extensively unless we find a way to get back to the table."