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Locked-Out Canadian Oil Workers Blockade Refinery

February 4, 2020

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

REGINA, Saskatchewan—Workers locked out of the Co-op Refinery Complex here since Dec. 5 have begun blockading the refinery to prevent strikebreakers from getting in and trucks from getting out. Federated Co-operatives Limited locked out the about 800 workers after Unifor Local 594 rejected a contract offer that would end FCL’s contributions to workers’ pensions and let them switch to a 401(k)-style contribution plan. “What Federated Co-operatives is proposing is nothing short of gutting of our pension,” Local 594 President Kevin Bittman told Jacobin. “Many of us simply don’t have enough working years left to save to make up the difference.” After picketing forced FCL to bring in strikebreakers by helicopter, the company won an injunction Dec. 23 that ordered workers to stop picketing long enough for scabs to come in and fuel trucks to come out. The union defied it, building fences around the complex. City police arrested 14 people, including Unifor national president Jerry Dias, on Jan. 20, the blockade’s first day. Canadian Union of Public Employees President Mark Hancock joined the picketers, saying, “If they take away pensions in the private sector, we at the public sector know they’re coming after ours next.” Read more

February 4, 2020

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