Unifor Not in Favour of Premier Moe’s Special Mediator Offer for Dispute with Federated Co-op

Unifor executive assistant and lead negotiator Scott Doherty was not impressed that he learned about Premier Scott Moe’s offer of a special mediator through Twitter.

Doherty felt he and his team should have sat down for a meeting or had a consultation before the premier made the announcement on Monday morning.

He told picketers, supporters and the media on Monday afternoon during a rally at Gate 7 that he has questions to this appointment before agreeing to what Moe had to say at the annual SUMA convention in Regina.

He feels this is just another stall tactic.

“Unifor would’ve loved to have had a conversation with the premier before he announces it to a bunch of business people,” shared Doherty. “It shows the disrespect that this government has for workers across the country.”

Premier Moe also mentioned he expects the Regina Police Service to take action with what he calls “illegal blockades” surrounding the refinery if Unifor doesn’t do so.

Doherty believes the barricade isn’t illegal and said the blockade would go away immediately if Co-op took out every replacement worker from the refinery.

“We’ll bargain without a barricade any time. If they want to bargain fairly, we’ll bargain fairly,” stated Doherty.

“As long as scabs are flown in and they continue to put economic strain on us, we will continue to put economic strain on them.”

Doherty added some good proposals were made at a bargaining session on Friday, but Federated Co-Op had no interest in those proposals and made no counter offers. He said he is ready to get a fair deal done, but he is waiting for the company to reach out to them.

Jagmeet Singh visits picketers at refinery
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh made an appearance at the Co-op refinery picket line on Monday afternoon in Regina.

During his visit, Singh met with workers and offered his full support for their cause during a rally at Gate 7. He also announced that his party is tabling anti-scab legislation to end labour disputes like this conflict once and for all.

Premier Moe said during a news scrum at the SUMA convention in Regina that he thinks it’s ironic Singh decided to pay a visit to the refinery and support oil and gas workers due to his stance on a low-carbon economy in Canada.

In response, Singh said he’s the only leader that is putting forward anti-scab legislation to say that workers should be able to bargain in good faith.

“These are good jobs. These workers should be protected and these are pensions they have duly earned and negotiated. Should I also not be subject to attacks?” suggested Singh.

“I call on the premier to do something, to actually help these workers get a good deal and stand up for the people here.”

Singh believes employees across Canada are under attack since a company as profitable as Co-op is attacking workers and their pensions.

He urges the federal and provincial governments to do what they can to protect workers and their pensions.

Co-op looking to get back to the table

Some local Co-op’s across Saskatchewan and southern Alberta could be out of fuel in the coming days due to the ongoing labour dispute between Unifor and Federated Co-op.

CEO Scott Banda says the barricades around refineries in Regina and Carseland, Alberta have prevented fuel trucks to get to Co-op’s throughout western Canada.

Banda said Unifor’s actions set a dangerous precedent across the country.

“This should be a concern for every business in this province and in this country that someone like Unifor determines when the law is to be applied and when it is not,” Banda said. “As a Canadian living in a civil society, that is really problematic and I encourage all businesses to think long and hard about the precedent that’s been set here.

“We’re not going to bow to this.”

Despite the talks breaking down on Friday, Banda says the Co-op is ready to return to the table as soon as the barricades are taken down.

Banda said even though fuel can move out of the refinery by rail, that can only take them so far.

“Rail is moved out of the refinery to Carseland, Alberta, where it is blockaded behind a fence at the Carseland terminal,” Banda said. “You have to move out of Carseland with trucks, and that’s where there’s another Unifor blockade.”

When asked about Premier Scott Moe appointing a special mediator in the labour dispute talks, Banda said he is encouraged by the Premier’s interest.

“We have always said we are prepared to negotiate, but while there is illegal activity going on,” Banda said. “If those barricades come down, and fuel can move, and we can have productive conversations, we’re looking at any solution that will help bring the parties back together and get people back to work.”

There will be two court injunctions heard this week in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where Co-op is anticipating the union will be held accountable for their actions.


More from GX94 Radio