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Union Threatens Strike at Saskatchewan Refinery as Talks Stall

Reuters, March 8, 2017
Reuters

Workers at the 130,000-barrel-per-day Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina, Saskatchewan, could go out on strike by the end of March after pay and pension negotiations with management broke down, a union representative said on Tuesday. The oil refinery is a wholly owned subsidiary of Federated Co-operatives Ltd and has about 800 unionized employees represented by Unifor.

Kate McKinley, a Unifor national representative, said Co-op was trying to degrade pensions for new employees, introduce two-tiered wages in some parts of the refinery and hire more non-union contractors. The previous collective agreement between the union and Co-op expired in January 2016 and bargaining over a new agreement stalled earlier this year. A mediator has been appointed and the two parties have another round of talks scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. If those fail, the mediator will submit a report to the provincial Ministry of Labour, after which there would be a 14-day cooling-off period before the union can give 48 hours' notice of strike, McKinley said.

"We would prefer to get a deal, but if not, we have to prepare for all options," she said.

Co-op spokesman Brad DeLorey said the company remained committed to the mediation process.

"The Co-op Refinery Complex is disappointed that Unifor has chosen to bargain in the media while collective bargaining is still under way," he added.

(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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