‘The ball is in their court’: Unifor brings back barricades after negotiations stall

Unifor’s Scott Doherty delivered news on Saturday morning he didn’t want to give to locked out Co-op refinery workers.

Talks have broken down between Federated Co-op and Unifor after the sides returned to the bargaining table earlier in the week.

Doherty, who serves as the lead negotiator, told picketers and viewers on their live video from Gate 7 that negotiations have stalled and there are plans to ramp up their boycott of Co-op across the country.

The two sides agreed to go back to the bargaining table on Wednesday at noon; Doherty said they emailed a proposal that would include contributions to the DB pension plan. He added that Co-op’s lead negotiator couldn’t come to the bargaining table until Friday since he was in Carseland, Alberta putting in an injunction on Thursday.

Doherty continued by saying they received a counter proposal at 5:00 p.m. on Friday which included all of their pension demands, indexing and 11 per cent into the pension plan for the DB workers.

But he said they also brought back concessions they took off the table months ago.

“They brought concessions that said we had to give up operators, master operator position eliminated, maintenance people gone, operational changes that eliminated jobs and were further concessions we had prior to this,” explained Doherty.

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Unifor negotiators had sent a counter proposal to Co-op saying they would give $12 million in savings from pension contributions, but Doherty said Co-op responded with “zero interest” in the offer and no counter.

In response, Doherty and his team have have sent a letter to Premier Scott Moe to get involved. A formal request was sent Saturday morning to the provincial government for binding arbitration.

Doherty admitted he is not sure when they will return to the bargaining table.

“We’ve made every move and we’re going to continue to ensure that our members are strong on these lines. We are done trying to move and be reasonable around making concessions.”

FCL released a statement Saturday morning saying while the two bargaining committees remain far apart, they are confident there is a path to a deal.

“It was always going to take more than one day to close the gap between the two parties, and we encourage Unifor to return to the table.”

The statement goes on to say they were prepared to bargain throughout the weekend and for as long as it took, but with blockades going back up means those discussions can not take place.

FCL states they are willing to talk and are hopeful that bargaining will resume in the near future.

Official opposition calls for action

Ryan Meili, leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, is also urging the province to bring the sides together through binding arbitration in a letter sent out on Saturday afternoon.

Meili is calling on the provincial government to provide an update on Saturday regarding their plans to resolve the dispute.

“The lack of leadership from the provincial government on this lockout cannot continue,” shared Meili.

“Workers at the refinery need to be able to negotiate a fair deal with their employer, and the people of Saskatchewan need to know that they have a government that will listen and take leadership when things get tough.”

[With files from Moises Canales]

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