Unifor 594 continues message of solidarity ahead of potential bargaining talks with Co-op

Solidarity and unity were the words used frequently during a Unifor rally Tuesday afternoon outside of the Co-op refinery.

Members of Unifor Local 594 and supporters chanted and listened to words of support on a bitterly cold Regina afternoon on Day 34 of the lockout.

During his speech, president of Local 594 Kevin Bittman said Co-op isn’t respecting their workforce by locking out their employees.

“We are on this line because the Co-op wants to give us a choice between a gutted pension or one that is worth half of our current pension,” Bittman said. “We are on this picket line because we refuse to accept a deal that has us going back 15%.”

Unifor spokesperson Scott Doherty said he has reached out to Co-op’s lead negotiator to reconvene the bargaining talks, but has not heard back.

“If they don’t take the concessions off, we’re here on the line, and you heard here (Tuesday) that we’ve asked out members from across the country to mobilize and get to Regina, and to support these workers.”

Doherty said their protesting efforts have had an impact on Co-op’s operations.

“We know that sales are down at a number of the gas stations, in particular in Saskatchewan,” Doherty said. “I think the boycott is starting to have an impact, and they’re certainly not running on full-capacity, you can see that.

“Our members works there all the time, you can see that the refinery is not running on full capacity.”

When asked how long the union is willing to take this dispute, Doherty simply responded stating they’ll go as long as they need to get a fair deal.

{With files from Moises Canales}

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