Premier Moe comments on Co-op refinery labour dispute as session resumes

The sound of car horns could be heard from inside the Saskatchewan Legislature on Monday afternoon when MLAs began their three-week legislative session amid COVID-19.

Unifor members were seen picketing outside of the building as the Co-op refinery labour dispute with Federated Co-op (FCL) continues. It has been over six months since workers were locked out of the refinery as tensions between Unifor and FCL have grown while no deal appears to be in sight.

Premier Scott Moe said he feels for each and every one of the workers and their families, however he believes the best deals come from the negotiation table when dealing with private sector labour issues.

“This has gone on too long. But I hope like everyone else involved and isn’t directly involved that it comes to a resolution sooner rather than later,” stated Premier Moe on Monday afternoon.

The Saskatchewan NDP has called on the government in recent months to step in and introduce binding arbitration to bring an end to the situation. Moe said despite the duration of the dispute, binding arbitration is still not an option.

“We have taken, not the unprecedented, but a very rare step of putting forward one of the best mediators in the country to work with the two sides to see if they were able to come to some type of agreement,” mentioned the premier. “We were hopeful that they would be able to and we are still hopeful that in the next number of days they will be able to.”

Mediator Vince Ready was appointed by the government back in February to be a part of discussions over 20 days between Unifor Local 594 and FCL, which culminated into a report based on his recommendations from those negotiations. While Unifor accepted the report in March, FCL did not accept the recommendations in full.

The lockout is expected to be a reoccurring topic during the three-week sitting at the legislature.

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