Unifor members continue protests outside of Co-op Refinery Complex

A lockout at the Co-op Refinery Complex continued Friday with Unifor local 594 members gathered outside every gate to fight for a better deal.

Co-op offered the workers 11.75% over the next four years, as well as the option to switch to a defined contribution pension.

594 President Kevin Bittman said that’s only one half of the truth.

“The other half is to get that 11.75% we have to go back 17.5%, so I’m not math genius but that’s a rollback; we have to take money out of our pockets to get 11%, that’s not right,” Bittman said. “The other thing is they’re giving us an option to keep our pension plan, but they’re gutting that pension plan, so we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars that they want to take out of our pension plan.”

Bittman said community support has been great.

“We live here, most of our members (live here), we pump our money into this economy, we have great support from the community,” Bittman said. “Once they really find the other half of the truth out, and just not listen to the one half that the company is telling you, our support is great because the fight is worth it.”

Unifor lead negotiator Scott Doherty said their current aim is to stop supply coming into the refinery.

“Obviously they’re running right now and there’s some trucks getting in and out, but our hope is that we cut it down entirely and in some point in time that may happen,” Doherty said. “That’s their problem, it’s not our problem. The fuel supply isn’t our problem, and they shouldn’t be running.

“If they want to make sure the fuel supply isn’t interrupted, they should get our members back to work.”

Doherty also highlighted the 105 workers brought in from out of province to help keep the refinery going, calling the move by Co-op a slap in the face to the 285 locked out union members they are replacing.

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