Saskatoon – The National Farmers Union is deeply concerned that Federated Co-operatives has locked out unionized workers at the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina. The NFU has sent a letter to the Board of Directors, urging them to end the lock-out immediately and return to the bargaining table in good faith.
The NFU is supportive of the co-operative business model. Many NFU members choose to use Co-op refinery products, including farm diesel fuel, gas, and oil. One reason for using Co-op products is that co-operatives are businesses that are not just about the bottom line, but have made commitment to uphold the internationally accepted “co-operative principles”, which include concern for community. With this lock-out, it has become harder to see how the Federated Co-operatives is different from other companies.
It is disturbing that a key issue in the dispute is whether workers will be able to use the pensions previously agreed to through collective bargaining and earned during their careers at the refinery, or if they will be forced to accept one that is less valuable. A roll-back in pensions is an issue for the whole community: reneging on the pension promise is a way for companies to transfer a portion of money earned by the workers into the company’s assets. If Co-op succeeds, other companies will be emboldened to seize their workers’ pension funds.
It is also disturbing to learn that Co-op management had prepared for a lengthy lock-out by building a work camp to house scabs, and has been spending resources on helicopter flights to transport scabs across the picket line. Co-op management has apparently invested heavily in measures designed to prolong the dispute.
It is the NFU’s position that federal and provincial labour laws should outlaw the employment of scab labour during the course of legal strikes or lock-outs, in order to assure the effectiveness of free collective bargaining.
In solidarity with Unifor 594, the NFU calls for a quick end to the lock-out, urges good faith bargaining, and encourages mediation to resolve the outstanding issues.
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For more information:
Glenn Norman, NFU 1st Vice President, Policy: (403) 227-2253