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Unifor moves blockade to Weyburn

By Daniel Jungwirth

January 13, 2020

On Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, Unifor moved its escalated picketing activities to Weyburn as a result of the labour dispute they initiated in December.

Similar to its actions on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Regina, Unifor has set up a blockade around Prairie Sky Co-op’s Crossroads location at the intersection of Highways 13 and 39.  Unifor is allowing people to leave the site, but are only allowing employees in—completely restricting all customers from accessing the site.

The Crossroads location contains a gas bar and cardlock.  A restaurant, not owned or operated by Co-op, is also on the site.  In addition, there is an FCL bulk petroleum plant on site that is used to distribute fuel to commercial customers and farmers in the Weyburn area.

Co-op customers and members continue to show their support by conducting their business with us throughout Western Canada.

These recent aggressive activities have a direct impact on our business and the business of local co-ops and their customers.  These activities also have a direct impact on the community of Weyburn and those who rely on the cardlock facility to operate various businesses such as farming and commercial trucking operations.  They will also have a direct impact on the independent restaurant’s business and indirect impact on other local businesses in the area.

Instead of using these aggressive tactics, we encourage Unifor to drop its insistence that bargaining can only take place if FCL agrees to never make changes to the current, 100 per cent employer-paid defined benefit pension plan.  That plan is costing co-ops across Western Canada, including Prairie Sky Co-op and its members, hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain.

Changes have to happen, and FCL has stated clearly that it’s willing to find a path to a deal once Unifor removes its demand for no changes to the pension plan.  Unfortunately, Unifor has refused to engage in meaningful bargaining since Sept. 26, 2019, when Unifor declared an impasse in bargaining.  Unifor issued a 48-hour notice to strike on Dec. 3, 2019, which the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) responded to with a lockout notice in order to ensure the safety and reliability of the refinery.

More information on the CRC’s offer is available at refineryfacts.ca.