The Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) has made a new offer to their locked-out Unifor members and has applied to force a vote on the proposal. The union’s leadership is recommending its membership reject the offer.
Workers have been locked out since Dec. 5, two days after issuing a 48-hour strike notice.
The two sides went to mediation in February and March. The mediator, Vince Ready, made recommendations to both sides in mid-March.
Unifor 594 voted to accept the recommendations, while the Co-op Refinery Complex said it could not accept them all.
Co-op adjusted the recommendations and, on March 25, the refinery said it had given their “final offer” to the Unifor 594 bargaining committee.
The refinery said the offer creates long-term certainty for employees.
Unifor said its membership would not vote on the final offer because the members had already ratified the mediator’s recommendations.
On March 30, the refinery said it gave Unifor a new “best and final” offer. The refinery said it was disappointed the membership could not vote and has applied to the Labour Relations Board to order a vote under Section 6-35 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act. The vote will be supervised by the board.
The refinery said the process should unfold over the next couple of weeks.
Unifor said it cannot accept the March 30 offer and recommends its membership reject it when the forced vote happens. Unifor said it continues to only want the special mediator’s recommendations.
“The mediators’ recommendations were thoughtfully crafted and balanced. They represent the best path forward for both oil and gas workers and the company,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a statement.
One of the biggest changes between the mediator’s recommendations and the Co-op Refinery Complex’s March 30 offer is pensions. The special mediator suggested employees contribute eight per cent into their pensions as of Feb. 1, 2022. They don’t currently contribute. On March 30, the CRC offer has employees paying eight per cent into their pensions a year earlier, on Feb. 1, 2021.
Pensions are one of the sticking issues in the dispute.
The CRC is also requesting a 50-50 share of current service costs beginning on Feb. 1, 2022.
Unifor files with Saskatchewan Labour Board
On Sunday, Unifor announced that it has filed two unfair labour practice applications with the Saskatchewan Labour Board against the Co-op Refinery Complex.
The union said on its website that one was related to “industrial espionage” while the other is related to “surface bargaining,” or negotiating in bad faith.
No allegations are proven. The Co-op Refinery Complex said it is aware of the applications and has filed a response with the Labour Relations Board. The refinery is now awaiting possible hearing dates.
Unifor alleges that after the lockout began, the CRC started a “campaign of psychological attacks” among other unfair practices.