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The CRC and Unifor 594 begin mandated cooling-off period

By Daniel Jungwirth

November 12, 2019

Gil Le Dressay, Vice-President of Operations at the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC), today announced that the Unifor Local 594 Executive has chosen to forgo further mediation and enter a mandated 14-day cooling-off period.

“It is disappointing that the Unifor 594 Executive has chosen to not engage in the mediation process until certain pre-conditions were met first, which has forced the hand of the mediator to not utilize the full 60-day mediation period available to us. We were hopeful that the mediation process would get a deal done,” said Le Dressay.

“We did provide them with an offer on Nov. 7, 2019, that includes an 11.75 per cent pay increase over four years, and the option to choose between contributing to their current Defined Benefit (DB) pension plan or transitioning to our Defined Contribution (DC) pension plan (the Company pays 10 per cent, employee pays four per cent for a total of 14 per cent). In addition, unionized employees would have access to a company performance plan that is based on the overall performance of the Company, as well as several enhancements to group benefits.”

The Company hopes that the Union Executive will present its latest offer to the union membership immediately and that the cooling-off period will give unionized employees time to encourage their Union Executive to get back to the bargaining table. 

“I want to emphasize that our priority is to get a deal done at the bargaining table and avoid a labour disruption; however, that means that both sides must be willing to bargain. We encourage the Unifor 594 Executive to return to the bargaining table,” said Le Dressay. “As a company, we will now begin our preparations to ensure that our highly-skilled management team is ready to assume the safe operation of our Refinery in the event a labour disruption does occur.”

The negotiations will now enter a 14-day cooling-off period. Following the cooling-off period, a 48-hour strike or lock-out notice can be given, at which point both sides will be in a legal position to enact a strike or lock-out. 

The Refinery has a plan in place that ensures the safety of its employees, the safety of the community and the safety of the Western Canadian fuel supply. If a labour disruption does occur, CRC’s highly-skilled management team, along with experienced contractor employees, will assume the safe operation of the Refinery.

“Safety is our first priority. It is critical to the safety of our people and the community that our management team assumes control of the Refinery in the event of a labour disruption,” said Le Dressay.

“Refineries like ours cannot simply be shutoff and we cannot risk the Union just walking out of the Refinery and leaving our operation, our employees, and our community vulnerable. At the same time, we must ensure that we continue to produce the products that fuel agriculture, transportation and our economy.  We are committed to the safe operation of our Refinery under any and all circumstances.”  

CRC management is still hopeful that a deal can be reached and is encouraging the Unifor 594 Executive to resume meaningful talks.