Saskatchewan Trucking Association concerned with situation at Co-op refinery

The Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) has voiced concerns regarding the challenges truckers are facing at the Co-op refinery in Regina during their labour dispute.

The association sent out a release Thursday morning detailing a number of complaints truckers are experiencing when arriving and leaving the facility.

In their statement, road safety for both truckers and commuters on the adjacent roadway has become a major concern with haulers being delayed by picketers. Trucks are left lined up along the road while waiting to enter the refinery.

The group has also received reports regarding the treatment of truckers when attempting to enter or leave the facility with directed harassment and verbal abuse.

Susan Ewart, executive director of the STA, said industry regulations affect how long truck drivers can work in a day, which means delays are creating lost revenue and decreased pay.

“I received an email from a frustrated truck driver saying he has been waiting for 20 hours,” mentioned Ewart. “We would like to see a little more respect there from the Unifor workers.”

She added that they understand the situation picketers are under and that they have the right to picket. However she hopes they can co-operate with drivers so they can transport goods to market.

“Truck drivers are typically paid by the kilometre. So if they are not moving, they are not earning a living – especially at this time of the year,” said Ewart.

“The message should be ‘be kind to each other’ and have some sort of empathy for what the other person is going through – on both sides.”

The STA says 26 independent fleets haul products for the refinery and that they are all experiencing similar issues accessing and being permitted to leave the facility.

Kevin Bittman, president of Unifor Local 594 which represents the striking workers, said their message has been about respect.

He confirmed that the union has made changes following the STA’s statement.

“They aren’t in the plant waiting, they are on the outside of the plant so they can better manage the drivers with hour problems,” noted Bittman. “We definitely adjusted and we heard what they said.”

He believes the adjustments were made Wednesday night.

Bittman however doesn’t agree that their members have been disrespectful as mentioned in the trucking association’s release.

He said he hasn’t seen it on the picket line and that they have reassured the workers they need to be respectful during this dispute.

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