Van attempting to cross picket line creates tension at Co-op refinery

It was a tense scene at the Co-op Refinery on Monday night as Unifor members on the picket line surrounded and stopped a van that was trying to enter the refinery complex.

Roughly 720 Unifor Local 594 employees at the refinery on the north edge of Regina were locked out last Thursday afternoon and tensions between the union and management have been climbing in recent days.

CBC

On Monday evening, a press release from the union said they expected there to be a confrontation between police and Unifor members. 

The release claimed the Regina Police Service "indicated that they intend to escort a supply vehicle into the Co-op Refinery through legal picket lines."

The release explained the van would try to enter the refinery at Gate 2 on 9th Avenue.

However, when the vehicle showed up, Unifor members blocked the van from entering, resulting in a stand-off between union members and the running vehicle. 

Regina Police Service at picket lines

Members of the Regina Police Service and police vehicles were on scene during the confrontation.

Police spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich said officers spoke with people on both sides and tried to get them to reach an agreement.

"We don't take sides in a labour dispute," she said. "Our job is to keep the peace."

Unifor members waved flags as they walked in a tight circle in front of the van, at one point chanting as they blocked the vehicle from moving forward.

The van remained in place for several hours. 

Eventually, some time before 9 p.m., the picket line made way and the van was allowed to enter the complex, Popowich said.