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Co-op Refinery Complex responds to strike notice, moves to protect plant safety

By Daniel Jungwirth

December 3, 2019

The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) is disappointed that the Unifor 594 Executive chose to issue a 48-hour strike notice at 4:30 p.m. CST today.

“Our priority was 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,” said Gil Le Dressay, Vice-President of Operations at the CRC.

“However, because a 48-hour strike notice creates an unsafe operating environment for the Refinery, we have issued a 48-hour lockout notice effective 5:30 p.m. today.  It is vital to the safety of our operation that we control the timeline of labour action as our highly-skilled management team assumes control of the Refinery’s operation. This also allows us to maintain a reliable supply of fuel to 170 local co-ops and their communities across Western Canada.”

The Refinery has put offers in front of the Unifor 594 Executive, however no counteroffer has been received. The CRC feels that it has put a fair offer in front of the Union but is willing to listen if Unifor chooses to bring a counteroffer forward and rescinds their strike notice. 

“Our offer includes an 11.75 per cent raise over four years. The average CRC worker earns about $104,000 per year, so the proposed raise represents, on average, a more than $12,000 increase over the life of the contract,” said Le Dressay. “We’ve also included enhanced benefits options and access to our company performance plan, which is an annual incentive bonus based on the Company’s performance.” 

In addition to increased wages, added benefits and a performance plan, CRC has given the Union a choice to remain in their current Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan or move to the Company’s industry-matching Defined Contribution (DC) Pension Plan.  The one caveat to remaining in the DB plan is that the workers will now be required to contribute to it.

“Most CRC unionized workers, unlike most Canadians, have never had to contribute to their pension plan. Unfortunately, that just isn’t sustainable any longer and we have to ask them to at least contribute to their plan,” said Le Dressay. “We value all of our employees and the work they do, which is why they are among the best compensated workers in Western Canada. Our current offer includes an industry-matching wage increase, industry-matching pension options, and a new performance bonus option for our hourly team.”