Mediator appointed in co-op refinery lockout

Well-known mediator Vince Ready has been appointed to help resolve the labour dispute between Unifor Local 594 and Federated Co-operatives Ltd.

In December, the company locked out more than 700 workers at its Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina after they delivered strike notice.

Since then fuel distribution has been hampered by union blockades at the refinery and other facilities.

Premier Scott Moe said last week he would appoint a mediator to try to end the dispute if the union dismantled its barricades at the refinery. The Regina Police Service moved in Feb. 7 and the blockade was removed.

Provincial Labour Relations Minister Don Morgan appointed Ready today, saying he will begin his work Feb. 18.

“We are appointing a special mediator to help resolve the impasse because of the impact of the dispute on Saskatchewan families, communities and businesses,” Morgan said in a news release.

With Ready’s help, the two parties have 20 days to reach a settlement. If a settlement is not reached, Ready will recommend terms to both sides and the minister.

Ready has worked in labour relations since 1965 and has arbitrated or mediated more than 7,000 labour and commercial disputes across Canada.

Unifor had asked for binding arbitration, but after Ready’s appointment said it welcomed mediation.

Local president Kevin Bittman said the dispute was affecting people throughout the province but that the union wasn’t being greedy.

The dispute has centred on changes the company wants to make to the pension plan.

FCL said it also welcomed the mediator and looked forward to meaningful discussion. It said it would not make further statements on bargaining.

Farmers are worried about having enough fuel for spring seeding after the company had to impose limits at cardlocks to ensure that emergency vehicles had enough. The company said last week it had a plan to supply fuel for seeding if the dispute dragged on.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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