Job action an option for Co-op refinery workers, union says

Co-op refinery to test emergency alarm system Wednesday afternoon

The union representing Co-op Refinery Complex employees says it's disappointed contract talks have broken down and it will not rule out job action.

Unifor said Federated Co-operatives Limited, which owns the Regina refinery, wants concessions on pensions for new hires, is demanding two-tiered wages for employees who work in different parts of the complex, and is contracting work outside of the union.

"We're not going to bargain concessions with a company that's had a $500-million profit last year. We're still hopeful that we'll be able to figure some of these things out and come to a fair deal," said Kate McKinley, a national representative for Unifor.

"We won't let the employer cheapen the quality of jobs for current employees or future ones."

Unifor represents 800 employees at the complex.

"When you contract the work out that we can do, we see it as an erosion of our jobs," McKinley said.

Co-op committed to mediation: spokesperson

The agreement between Unifor and Co-op expired in January 2016.

Unifor said it has met with the company 21 times until coming to a contract impasse this January. Mandatory mediation began last Friday.

A spokesperson for Co-op said it is committed to mediation and bargaining in good faith to make a fair deal.

The company said dates for mediation were agreed to in advance, including a pending meeting this weekend.

"The Co-op Refinery Complex is disappointed that Unifor has chosen to bargain in the media while collective bargaining is still underway," a spokesperson said.