Unifor’s Dias arrested as Co-op refinery lockout escalates
REGINA - A judge has fined a union that represents more than 700 workers at a Saskatchewan oil refinery $100,000 for violating a court order that set limits on picketing during an ongoing contract dispute.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Timothy Keene found Unifor intentionally and deliberately disobeyed an interim injunction limiting the time members can hold up traffic going in and out of the Co-op refinery in Regina.
Unifor, which represents 300,000 private-sector workers across Canada, announced Monday that it planned to stop replacement workers from entering the refinery and fuel trucks from leaving in an attempt to shut down the plant and force talks to resume.
In his decision, Keene wrote that deterrence is required to convey the need for Unifor to follow court orders.
“Particularly those intended to bring some level of stability to a tense labour dispute,” he wrote in a judgment released Wednesday.
Police in Regina have charged 14 Unifor members over the blockade and are still deciding whether additional charges should be laid.
“In light of this ruling, we ask that Unifor comply with the injunction order currently in place and remove the blockade,” refinery owner Federated Co-operatives Ltd. said in a news release.
Unifor secretary-treasurer Lana Payne said members would continue to hold the picket line.
The company locked out workers in early December after they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike. The main issue is pension plan changes the company wants to make.
The court ruling came as labour leaders from across Canada joined a rally in support of the refinery workers.
“This fight is about all of us,” Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, told a crowd gathered on the picket line.
Supporters hoisted flags representing the different unions that have been uniting behind the workers, including nurses unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union.
Some labour leaders, including Yussuff, called on Premier Scott Moe and his Saskatchewan Party government to get both parties back to the table.
NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili, who attended the rally, said the government should facilitate a meeting between both sides.