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Lockout ensures safe operation of the Co-op Refinery Complex

By Daniel Jungwirth

December 5, 2019

To ensure the safety and reliability of the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC), Unifor 594 has been locked out of the Refinery as of 5:30 p.m. today. The move also ensures the Refinery remains operational in order to protect the Western Canadian fuel supply.

“It is disappointing that the Unifor 594 Executive would not return to the bargaining table,” said Gil Le Dressay, Vice-President of Refinery Operations at the CRC.

“Despite our best efforts to resume negotiations yesterday, the Unifor 594 Executive has decided to put their membership on the picket line. As we told them, the only way we can ensure a safe operating environment is to lock the Union out and have our management team assume the safe operation of the Refinery. We simply can’t run the risk of employees conducting rotating strikes and walking off the job in our safety-sensitive operating environment.”

The CRC wants to make it clear that it is willing to resume talks with the Unifor 594 Executive when they are ready. However, the Company will not alter its position that having unionized employees contribute to their own pension plan is a fair approach that matches industry standards.

“We don’t believe that asking employees to contribute to their own pension plan is an unreasonable request,” said Le Dressay. “We have always been willing to discuss the details of how they contribute to their own pension, but they will need to contribute as do most people in Canada who have a company-provided pension.”

The Refinery has offered an 11.75 per cent wage increase over four years. In addition, the Company has offered unionized employees the option to remain on their current pension plan or move to the company's lucrative Defined Contribution (DC) Pension Plan that Management and all new hires are on. Regardless of the pension choice employees make, the Company will contribute up to 10 per cent of the employees' salary in pension. The DC pension plan matches the best in the industry.