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Regina refinery owner asks labour board to order vote on latest offer to union

March 31, 2020
By The Canadian Press

Federated Cooperatives in Regina. Photo: Google Streetview

A Regina refinery says it’s applying to the province’s Labour Relations Board to order a vote on its latest contract offer to union members, who’ve been on picket lines since they were locked out of the facility in December.

Co-op Refinery Complex says in a statement that it’s disappointed the Unifor 594 bargaining committee refused to take its offer from last Wednesday to members, so it says it has applied to the labour board to order a final offer vote on its “Best and Final Offer” dated Monday.

The union had voted earlier this month to accept recommendations from government-appointed labour mediator Vince Ready to resolve the dispute.

But the company’s owner, Federated Co-operatives Ltd., said it was unable to accept all the terms because it had to take into account the significant effects on the company’s business of COVID-19 and declining oil prices.

It tabled another offer that the union said included “new, aggressive concessions.”

The union responded on social media Monday that it had just received the newest offer and was looking it over.

“We are currently reviewing the offer and will provide a detailed synopsis for the membership soon,” the union posted.

The government appointed the mediator after weeks of unrest on picket lines as workers and supporters put up barriers to try to shut the plant down. Police made a number of arrests.

“We are encouraging the Unifor 594 membership to vote in favour of our offer. The offer we have put in front of Unifor 594 is the deal that provides certainty to employees and should end this dispute,” Co-op Refinery Complex said in a statement.

The 700 workers were locked out of the facility after they took a strike vote. Pensions have been at the heart of the dispute.

The Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety confirmed an application for a final offer vote was received on Monday from the employer.

A ministry spokeswoman said once the information in the application is verified, the Labour Relations Board reviews the materials provided and, if appropriate, directs that a vote takes place.

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