Unifor is hoping to get back to the bargaining table Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, the Unifor National President Jerry Dias held a press conference at Hotel Saskatchewan to say the union would remove the blockades at multiple gates at the Co-op Refinery in an effort to get back to the table. Dias also asked Premier Scott Moe to get Federated Co-operatives Limited to the bargaining table within 48 hours, or pursue binding arbitration to end the dispute.
Co-op responded with a release that stated they would go back to the table once Unifor Local 594, and all the other union members brought in, follow the court orders that have been put in place.
— Co-op Refinery (@CoopRefinery) January 29, 2020
The provincial government also put out a statement that said “we are aware of Mr. Dias’ proposal from media reports of his news conference. However, the government has not received a formal proposal from Unifor requesting binding arbitration and would need to receive more detail on what he is proposing before responding. Binding arbitration is a mechanism that is available in any labour dispute in Saskatchewan if both sides agree to it. The government continues to encourage both parties to respect orders of the court and to return to the bargaining table in order to reach a negotiated settlement.”
Dias responded to Co-op’s comments by saying the union would do exactly what they want. “So at 10:00am tomorrow [Thursday] morning the bargaining committee will be prepared to sit down at the bargaining table to find a resolution to this lockout. At 10:00am, if in fact you are available at that time, we will take down the blockade and we will comply to the letter of the orders from the Saskatchewan courts.”
“If you are not ready to meet at 10:00am,” Dias added, “let us know when you are ready and we will comply with the court order at that time. This is 17 hours notice, you said you only needed a couple hours, here you are.”
He also put a call out to the Premier that the union has now done everything the employer has asked. “If in fact they come out with another excuse not to get to the bargaining table, it is clear that they have no intention in finding a solution and we will once again suggest, quite adamantly, that you gibe the parties 48 hours to come to an agreement or you will invoke binding arbitration on Monday.”
Wednesday marked day 55 of the lockout at the Co-op Refinery. After issuing a 48 hour strike notice, Unifor members were locked out of the Co-op Refinery on December 5th with pensions being the biggest dispute.