Unifor shuts down the Co-op Refinery

Regina police arrest picketers

On January 20, Unifor escalated action in solidarity with locked out workers at Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), members of Unifor Local 594. Several hundred reinforcement picketers arrived from across the country and surrounded the 544-acre FCL Refinery in Regina, effectively shutting it down.

“Co-op executives locked our members out six weeks ago and today we are locking them out. No fuel will be leaving this refinery,” said Unifor National President. “This tremendous display of solidarity is sending a message to this greedy multi-billion dollar conglomerate to get back to the table and bargain a fair deal.”

The refinery workers have been locked out since December 5, after refusing to accept concessions from the corporation which profited $1 billion last year. FCL has used scabs and management – some of whom it has brought in by helicopter – to run the refinery.

Local 594 President Kevin Bittman called the solidarity action inspirational. “We are so grateful to all the members who dropped everything to come and help us fight to protect our pensions.”

Not all who showed up at the picket line were there in solidarity. The Regina Police claimed that the picket was in violation of a court order between FCL and Local 594 and brought tow trucks to dismantle the blockade. Several union members, including Dias, were arrested.

According to a Unifor press release, “After announcing that Unifor members would peacefully halt vehicles from entering the Co-op Refinery today, the Regina Police arrested more than a dozen Unifor members, staff and elected leaders who were peacefully picketing in support of locked Unifor Local 594 members.”

Unifor Secretary-Treasurer Lana Payne said, “The Regina Police acted by arresting our members on a picket line that exists only because of Co-op’s shameful decision to lockout workers. Tonight’s escalation was completely unnecessary and on a level I have rarely witnessed in recent years. We are calling on the Regina Police to immediately de-escalate and stop their heavy-handed tactics aimed at inflaming tensions on a peaceful and legal picket line.”

Unifor continues to encourage the public to boycott Co-op gas, retail, and home supplies outlets across Western Canada. For more information visit BoycottCoop.ca.

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