Unifor locks drivers out of Weyburn’s card-lock station

Unifor is taking their pickets on the road.

With the labour dispute between Unifor and Co-op now in its second month, union members have locked out the card-lock location in Weyburn and is picketing out front.

Local 594 president Kevin Bittman said this is to try and put pressure on the company. “The retailers are the ones that are funding the lockout. So we are taking it to their business and hoping we put enough pressure to get them back to the table.”

“The company’s not willing to sit down with us,” said Bittman. “We reached out to them and asked them if they are willing to sit down and take the concessions off the table, and they said no. So we are in the same position and we are just escalating more and more each time.”

Pension plans have been the sticking point in the dispute.

Nearly 800 union members have been locked out of the refinery since December.

Co-op calls on Unifor to come back to the table

Federated Co-op is looking to get back to the bargaining table with Unifor local 594 as the union’s protests continue to increase.

FCL spokesperson Cameron Zimmer said they see the recent demonstrations as aggressive.

“They’ve definitely had an impact on these specific locations, but when we talk about Co-op overall, we know that Co-op customers and members are still showing up, they’re still supporting our Co-op businesses throughout western Canada.”

Zimmer said farmers, truckers, and local companies depend on the Weyburn cardlock location to fuel machinery to do their jobs.

“What we’ve seen is that this is a tactic that Unifor is using in order to get attention,” Zimmer said. “Really what we’re calling on is instead of using aggressive tactics like this, we want and encourage Unifor drop it’s insistence that bargaining can only take place if FCL doesn’t make any changes to the 100% employer-paid defined benefit pension plan.”

Zimmer said they are only asking union members to do what many Canadians do already.

“We’re looking at the volatility of our energy industry, and we know that long-term, we have to make changes,” Zimmer said. “Really, what we’re asking for is for employees just to contribute to their pension plan, which is something that most Canadians who have a pension plan also do.”

According to Zimmer, there have not been meaningful talks in this dispute since September of 2019.

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