Regina – It turns out a global pandemic threatening the entire economy was enough to get Unifor to agree to a mediator’s recommendations, but not the Co-op Refinery Complex. Therefore, the dispute is still on.
On Sunday, March 22, the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) posted the following statement:
“The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) would like to thank Special Mediators Amanda Rogers and Vince Ready for their time and effort in meeting with us, thoughtfully considering both parties' positions and preparing their report and recommendations.
“In carefully analyzing the report, the CRC has determined it is unable to accept all aspects of the report's recommendations in their entirety and will need to make modifications out of our responsibility to our employees, our co-op owners, our customers and the broader communities that depend on the long-term sustainability of the CRC. That said, the report does contain a number of helpful recommendations, which the CRC hopes will stand to move negotiations toward a resolution and a signed deal with Unifor 594.
“We must now also consider the stark world developments that are presently unfolding and their impacts to both our business reality and our ever-more critical responsibility to our multiple stakeholders. Global economic circumstances have changed, and with that, we have seen a drastic decline in the consumer consumption of fuel and rapidly declining oil prices that have put the CRC in a more difficult financial position than when negotiations began.
“Like all businesses, the refinery is now reassessing how to manage through the financial turmoil. As a company, we must consider how to reduce costs, delay capital spending, protect jobs and make decisions around cancelling projects that are no longer viable. As negotiations proceed, the CRC will ultimately need to make decisions that are responsible and responsive not only to its employees but also to our local co-op owners, customers and the broader communities across Western Canada.
“The CRC continues to be committed to reaching a fair deal and will be presenting the Unifor 594 membership with an offer in the coming days.”
Unifor responded in a tweet, saying, “Shocking decision from @CoopFCL to use #covid19Canada pandemic to reject mediator report that would have ended 108 day lockout of @unifor594 at @Cooprefinery This is disaster capitalism from a greedy multi- billion dollar conglomerate.”