Unifor, trucking companies discuss alleged incidents of sabotage amidst Co-op Refinery lockout

Trucking companies hauling products from the Co-op refinery are concerned with the string of harassment and intimidation they have experienced during the strike between Federated Co-op and Unifor.

Truckers have come forward with experiences involving anything from picketers intimidating drivers and using derogatory language to slashing airbags and tires.

Nick Johnson, driver manager for C.S. Day Transport, shared a story with reporters where a driver was recently followed by a vehicle known to be used by Unifor, and blocked the truck at an intersection in the industrial area. He added this isn’t the first time one of their units have been followed people believed to be picketers.

Johnson said there was an incident on December 30 when a truck received damage to one of its tires from a caltrop. Since Monday’s incident, he’s heard of two semi trucks and one personal vehicle that have had their tires slashed or punctured.

Regina Police confirmed in an email on Thursday afternoon they have received reports of caltrops in tires and that police are investigating.

Justin Wright with Lowridin’ Carriers said he has never seen anything like this in the 23 years he has been a driver and owner with the company.

None of his drivers have experienced vandalism or mischief, but he’s had other operators share their experiences over the last month.

He feels it’s a scripted song and dance for what happens to drivers trying to enter and leave the facility.

“These poor guys walking the line are just doing what they are told by the union representing them,” explained Wright. “We’re not against the people walking the line. We’re against the people enforcing those people to do what they’ve been asked to do while they walk the line.”

Wright added that the situation has been frustrating for his company, saying they are helplessly caught in the middle of this strike and are being used as a pawn. He mentioned that he wants to see the law of the injunction be followed.

These photos were taken after a truck driver found a caltrop lodged into one of his tires during the Co-op strike. (Photos: 620 CKRM)

Evan Grant, maintenance manager for Len Grant Trucking, talked about how they have had two incidents of slashed airbags and one contaminated DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) which caused one of their trucks to break down.

He said for someone to go out of their way to cause damage to their units is disrespectful and creates a huge safety concern for themselves and the public.

“Our trucks are in our yards overnight. We don’t know where or when it’s happening – but it’s happening,” said Grant.

“Len Grant Trucking has been in business for over 35 years and vandalism isn’t something we think about or talk about. We haul dangerous goods and we’re worried about safety.”

Grant mentioned that these incidents happened three days in a row a couple days after the start of the strike.

‘These are just allegations’

Meanwhile Scott Doherty, the executive assistant to Unifor’s National President said people need to be aware that the allegations of picketing members sabotaging trucks outside the Co-op Refinery are simply that, allegations.

“I’m not going to comment on allegations made by trucking companies about what happens to their tires or anything else for that matter, if there’s actual evidence and proof from Regina Police we’ll certainly deal with it appropriately, but right now these are just allegations,” Doherty said.

Doherty also said if truckers are upset about the effects the lockout is having on them they should call Co-op and encourage them to meet with Unifor at the bargaining table.

“I think the public and anybody that’s concerned including the truck drivers and other contractors that wanna get to work should pick up the phone and tell Co-op to get back to the bargaining table and get a deal instead of continuing to lock their employees out,” said Doherty.

Some tuckers have also been claiming the court order is not being followed by Unifor, Doherty said that as far as they understand they’re allowed to stop trucks for ten minutes to explain why they’ve been locked out, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do.


More from 620 CKRM