Saskatchewan

Van attempting to cross picket line creates tension at Co-op refinery

Unifor members waved flags as they walked in a tight circle in front of the van, at one point chanting as they blocked the vehicle from moving forward.

Unifor said it was anticipating a conflict with police, but police say they don't take sides

Unifor members blocked a van from entering the Co-op Refinery on Dec. 9, 2019. The van was attempting to cross the picket line at Gate 2 on 9th Avenue. Regina police said officers talked to both sides the and dispute was resolved peacefully, with the van eventually entering the complex. (CBC)

It was a tense scene at the Co-op Refinery on Monday night as Unifor members on the picket line surrounded and stopped a van that was trying to enter the refinery complex.

Roughly 720 Unifor Local 594 employees at the refinery on the north edge of Regina were locked out last Thursday afternoon and tensions between the union and management have been climbing in recent days.

On Monday evening, a press release from the union said they expected there to be a confrontation between police and Unifor members. 
A Regina Police Service vehicle can be seen near the picket line at the Co-op refinery on Monday night, Dec. 9, 2019. (CBC News)

The release claimed the Regina Police Service "indicated that they intend to escort a supply vehicle into the Co-op Refinery through legal picket lines."

The release explained the van would try to enter the refinery at Gate 2 on 9th Avenue.

However, when the vehicle showed up, Unifor members blocked the van from entering, resulting in a stand-off between union members and the running vehicle. 

Members of the Regina Police Service and police vehicles were on scene during the confrontation.

Police spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich said officers spoke with people on both sides and tried to get them to reach an agreement.

"We don't take sides in a labour dispute," she said. "Our job is to keep the peace."

Unifor members waved flags as they walked in a tight circle in front of the van, at one point chanting as they blocked the vehicle from moving forward.

The van remained in place for several hours. 

Eventually, some time before 9 p.m., the picket line made way and the van was allowed to enter the complex, Popowich said.

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