'Our role is not to take sides': RPS responds to accusations of favoritism from Unifor
The union which represents striking workers at the Co-op Refinery is accusing the Regina Police Service of picking sides.
Kevin Bittman, President of Unifor Local 594, says the union was made aware that the company was going to be “sneaking a van full of parts” into the site on Monday. He said a call went out to the union members, of which about 100 showed up.
“They talked about moving some essential parts in, we told them we would like to know what parts, they wouldn’t tell us,” Bittman told CTV News. “So they just tried to sneak them in.”
Tuesday marks day six of job action. Last week the union issued an official strike notice, followed an hour later by notice of a lockout.
The Regina Police Service said that late Monday evening police were made aware that there was a vehicle the Co-Op Refinery wanted on the premises that the picketers refused to let pass. RPS members spoke to people on both sides of the issue and helped them come to an agreement.
“The van was let through,” RPS’ Manager of Public Information and Strategic Communication, Elizabeth Popowich said. “Shortly after that the picketers stepped aside and allowed the vehicle to move forward, and then most people left the scene.”
On Tuesday morning, Unifor accused RPS of choosing sides in a news release.
“By intervening without a court order, RPS has shown not only highly questionable judgement, but also contempt for the highly-skilled workers fighting back against the company’s aggressive demand for concessions,” Jerry Dias, Unifor National President said in the online press release.
Regina police say it has been in communication with the disputing sides since the strike began. RPS says this is standard practice whenever there is a labour dispute.
“We reach out to a representative on both sides of the issue to make sure they’re aware of the fact that our role is not to take sides, but to maintain the peace, ensure people are safe and ensure everyone’s rights are respected,” she said.