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Lockout ends for refinery workers in Canada

23 June, 2020A dispute that lasted almost 200 days has ended after the Unifor Canada local 594 bargaining unit ratified a tentative agreement with the employer, Federated Co-operatives Limited.

The dispute started when Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) locked out 730 workers after the union refused to accept a major downgrade of the pension scheme. During the bitter struggle, 14 union members were arrested at a legal picket line.

After six months, the union members have now ratified a tentative agreement with Co-op Refinery.

The new collective agreement maintains the defined benefit pension plan and the company matched employee savings plan for existing workers. Wage improvements in the new collective agreement match the National Pattern.

“Wealthy corporations have been allowed to act with impunity for too long, exerting their power on workers in order to profit, while eroding wages, pensions, and benefits,”

says Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

“Unifor members took a stand against this aggression, and Co-op locked them out in the cold. In this fight, we showed that Canada’s workers are united and will fight to defend good jobs.”

During the dispute, IndustriALL Global Union reached out to the Provincial Government of Saskatchewan to ensure implementation of the mediators’ recommendations. IndustriALL affiliates took to social media to extend support and solidarity to the locked-out union members.

“We congratulate all members of Unifor Canada Local 594 and of Unifor across Canada on a victory they fought long and hard to achieve. The bravery they showed in the long-lasting picket lines throughout winter and pandemic times, even fighting the harassment from the company and the local police, is an inspiration for unions around the world,”

says Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary.