Striking employees block trucks at Co-op Refinery leading to concern from trucking association
REGINA -- Long lines of trucks outside the Co-op Refinery have become a common sight after six days of labour unrest between the company and Unifor.
The picketers are blocking trucks from going in and out of the facility and that’s raising concerns for the Saskatchewan Trucking Association, who say truckers are being forced to go over their allowed hours on duty.
“Essentially, if these drivers are detained or held up for 14 hours, that’s their day, they’re not moving loads, they’re not getting paid what they normally would get paid and they’re having to go over those anyways, which they’re really not supposed to be doing, it’s a big safety concern,” STA Director of Communications Nicole Sinclair said.
The Co-op fuel haulers are independent contractors and don’t work for the company.
STA says the situation is causing frustration and a loss of income.
“Not only are they not making money, especially at this time of year it’s not great right before Christmas, but they’re not seeing their children or they’re having a hard time trying to find child care for their children and they’re trying to organize all this from the cab of their truck on the other side of a picket line and it’s very uncomfortable for them,” Sinclair said.
Andrew Stevens, Associate Professor of Labour Relations at the University of Regina, says the picketers are within their rights.
“We’re seeing a deliberate attempt to prevent trucks from going in, that’s supposed to happen, but again, we’re in a delicate balance between constitutional rights and other laws still being in play at that juncture as people are going into the refinery,” Stevens said.
Unifor Local 594 President Kevin Bittman says they don’t plan on changing their tactics.
“There’s always disturbances when you set up a peaceful picket and alter someone’s day, but we are entitled to have a peaceful picket and that’s what we’re doing here,” he said.
Unifor and the Co-op were scheduled to head back to the bargaining table on Wednesday, however, those talks have been cancelled.