Saskatchewan

Unifor, Regina refinery to meet Monday as lockout reaches 53 days

The union says representatives will meet with the Co-op's CEO at 4 p.m. CST in Saskatoon on Monday.

The union says representatives are informally meeting with Co-op's CEO at 4 p.m. CST in Saskatoon

Unifor said it and the Co-op Refinery are having an informal meeting on Monday in Saskatoon. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Unifor announced on Monday that representatives from the union and the Co-op Refinery Complex are set to meet in Saskatoon.

The meeting will take place at about 4 p.m. CST, said Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the president for Unifor.

Doherty said the meeting will include him, Unifor National President Jerry Dias, Unifor 594 President Kevin Bittman and Federated Co-op Limited CEO Scott Banda. Doherty said it is not a return to bargaining but instead, an informal meeting. 

"The only way to end this is at the bargaining table," Bittman said.

"So today, Scott Banda said they were willing to meet with us, hopefully that's a good sign in putting an end to this lockout."

Last week, Unifor said it had removed its preconditions on talks and that it would be open to negotiating. The Co-op Refinery Complex previously said it would not resume talks until the barricades were taken down. 

Unifor has put up fences at various fuel stations and blockaded all but one entrance to the Co-op Refinery Complex. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Job action spreads to Alberta

Doherty also boasted of the union's efforts to impede the FCL from transporting fuel out of a facility in Carseland, Alta., during Monday's news conference.

Doherty said the fencing around the refinery had blocked most fuel from leaving the facility for eight days while the fencing at the Carseland facility had been for three days.

"I believe there is some fuel leaving [the refinery] by train and by the pipeline but not a lot," Doherty said. "And most of the rail goes to Carseland so it's not getting out of the Carseland facility."

Vic Huard, executive vice president for FCL, said the fencing is illegal and could hurt local Co-op locations and the customers that rely on card lock facilities.

"They have simply shut off access to everything including emergency vehicles and that's very troubling," Huard said.

The disruption in Carseland could disrupt the rest of the area if the blockades remain up, he added. Huard said the RCMP has declined to intervene until an injunction has been granted.

53 days, so far

Almost 800 Unifor members have been locked out for 53 days. The union issued a 48-hour strike notice on Dec.3 and was locked out on Dec. 5.

On Jan. 20, the union put up blockades at all but one entrance to the Co-op Refinery Complex. The one entrance was opened for any emergency vehicles that may need to enter.

Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said previously that the blockades are illegal and police are working on an investigation. 

On Friday, Jan. 24, Regina Mayor Michael Fougere met with Unifor's national president Jerry Dias. 

Fougere said community safety is one of his top priorities when it comes to the dispute and that the meeting was an "information exchange." Fougere said Dias didn't ask him to get involved. 

"[It was] a very productive conversation, an interesting conversation," Fougere said of the meeting.

With files from Creeden Martell and Rick Donkers

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