Saskatchewan

About 100 workers at Regina Co-op refinery to receive temporary layoff notices

Workers at the Co-op Refinery Complex are preparing to get back to work, but about 100 of them will be served with temporary layoff notices in the coming weeks.

Co-op Refinery Complex says layoffs due to COVID-19 measures, economic downturn

Brad DeLorey, a refinery spokesperson, says the first temporary layoffs will happen as early as next week and there will be further layoffs in July. (CBC)

Workers at the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) in Regina are preparing to get back to work, but about 100 of them will be served with temporary layoff notices in the coming weeks.

The news comes days after the CRC and Unifor Local 594 signed a deal to end a lengthy labour dispute.

Brad DeLorey, director of communications and public affairs with the CRC, said the layoffs were necessary due to COVID-19 measures and the downturn in the economy.

"We have turned down production at our facility immensely during COVID," he said. "And of course [with] the impact of COVID as well in regards to working conditions, keeping distance with people, we're following suit with the temporary layoff."

No date was given for when the temporary layoffs will end, but DeLorey noted that the provincial government allows temporary layoffs for the duration of the public health emergency plus two weeks.

DeLorey said the refinery provided notice to the union on April 24 that there would be temporary layoffs.

He said the first temporary layoffs will happen as early as next week and there will be more in July.

"That could change from now, too, based on what happens with market conditions and COVID restrictions," DeLorey said.

Layoffs are unnecessary, says union

A letter to workers signed by the union executive says they believe the layoffs are unnecessary and that "there are mechanisms and processes the Company can adopt to avoid any layoffs altogether."

No one from the union was immediately available for comment.

According to the union's letter, workers will be returning to the refinery from about July 1 to Aug. 3, with 594 workers back on-site by July 20.

The letter says the union doesn't believe members should be at home while contractors are on-site doing work. 

"We said we are ready to work and we meant it," the letter reads. "Once the mandated reorientation training is complete there is no reason our members should not be on-site doing their regular duties." 

DeLorey said the time frame is due to drug and alcohol testing that needs to be completed and training protocols that need to be completed. He said COVID-19 guidelines require smaller groups for training, so it will take longer.

"We're very happy to get people back to work," DeLorey said. "Unfortunately, you know, we were forced to do temporary layoff notices. These people are very valuable to us and we will bring them back when market conditions change and when COVID restrictions allow us to do that."

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter and copy editor with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca.

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