Saskatchewan

Regina police say they are investigating Unifor blockades, independent of politics

On Monday, the premier said police should enforce a court injunction if the barricades at the Regina refinery didn't come down.

On Monday, the premier said police should enforce a court injunction if the barricades didn't come down

Regina police were seen monitoring the Unifor picket lines at the Co-op Refinery Complex on Friday, Jan. 31. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The Regina Police Service released a statement stating that police are independent from politics Monday, shortly after the premier called on the service to enforce a court injunction if barricades at the Co-op Refinery Complex aren't removed. 

On Monday, Premier Scott Moe said he will appoint a special mediator to help with the dispute between Unifor and the Co-op Refinery Complex if Unifor takes down the barricades it has set up at the Regina refinery. 

The dispute has been ongoing since early December. Unifor issued a 48-hour strike notice on Dec. 3. About 800 workers were locked out on Dec. 5. 

On Jan. 20, Unifor barricaded the Co-op Refinery Complex. The Co-op Refinery said this was contrary to a court injunction limiting pickets to holding up trucks for a maximum of 10 minutes

On Monday, Moe said he expects the Regina Police Service to enforce the court order calling for the removal of barricades set up by the union at the refinery.

Regina police said in their statement the labour dispute is a civil matter between Federated Co-op Limited and Unifor 594. 

Police said they were responsible for community safety and that the city is not in jeopardy. Police and Unifor members worked together to ensure emergency vehicles could get in and out of the refinery.

Police say they respect the right of Unifor to peacefully, lawfully, and safety protest but at the same time, the Co-op Refinery Complex has the right to operate its business. 

"We are concerned about the ongoing illegal actions and the violation of the court order by members of both Unifor Local #594 and Unifor National and anyone else who participates in the blockade. These matters remain the subject of ongoing investigation," police said. 

Regina police monitored the Unifor picket lines at the Co-op Refinery Complex on Friday, Jan. 31. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Police said they are independent of elected officials and that for as long as civil remedies are available, they must be explored by the people involved. Police said they believe the contempt of court application scheduled for Feb. 6 is an appropriate way to end the blockade. 

"There are ways to hold people accountable for their illegal actions without resorting to criminal law remedies that may escalate matters, resulting in violence," police said.

With files from Adam Hunter

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