Coop Refinery workers take picket line to Saskatoon

Locked out Unifor Local 594 members from the Co-op Refinery travelled to Saskatoon Wednesday to picket in front of Federated Cooperatives Ltd headquarters downtown for the afternoon.

About 30 of the 720 union members made the trip, with Unifor members from other locals supporting them.

Local president, Kevin Bittman, says they have received support during the lockout with people picketing across the country in Langley, B.C., on Vancouver Island and in Winnipeg, and some Unifor members from SaskPower, SaskEnergy and SaskTel joined in the picket line.

Bittman says pensions are the sticking point.

In the last agreement, two years ago, new employees would have a defined contribution pension plan and the rest would keep their defined benefit plan. Now, FCL is proposing the workers would have to contribute 11 per cent to the plan, which they haven’t done before. Bittman considers that basically an 11 per cent rollback in pay, plus they would have to give up their savings plan in the collective agreement, which is another 6.5 per cent and the formula would be gutted, taking more money out of the pension plans.

Along with the picketers walking up and down 20th Street and 4th Avenue in front of FCL, there were approximately 5 or 6 security guards monitoring the situation.

The Coop Refinery Unifor members have been locked out since December 5th.


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