Province appoints special mediator in Co-op Refinery dispute

February 12, 2020 – 12:00 AM

February 12, 2020

REGINA—Unifor welcomes the appointment of renowned mediator Vince Ready by Saskatchewan Labour Minister Don Morgan to assist in reaching a collective agreement with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) to end the 69-day lockout at the refinery.

“We appreciate the appointment of Vince Ready and the imposition of a set negotiation period,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We’ll know soon enough if Co-op is ready to bargain in good faith. If there is no deal after the mediation period we will know that Federated Co-operatives Limited really doesn’t want to end this lockout.”

Unifor points out that, under normal circumstances, mediators are given ten days with the parties, yet this process provides 20 days to reach an agreement, starting February 19, 2020, after which Ready will report back to government.

“The provincial government is stepping up and recognizing that this dispute with Co-op Refinery is not good for anyone—it is fracturing Saskatchewan. The fact that they appointed a special mediator is a good step and we are going to see that process though,” said Kevin Bittman, President of Unifor Local 594. “We hope that FCL will take this seriously and not use the mediator as a stall tactic to push product and supplies through the picket line.”

“Premier Scott Moe couldn’t get on the phone to the federal government fast enough when it was a worker-led strike at CN,” said Dias. “But when his CEO friends lock out their workers in the middle of winter, he is not inclined to impose binding arbitration as we requested.”

“The fact is that, without a binding arbitration process, the company has little incentive to change their pattern of behaviour,” continued Dias. “The silver lining in Minister Morgan’s offer is that Vince Ready is a very capable mediator with a long track record of success.”