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Unifor holds rally, says members from across country to join Regina picket
REGINA -- Unifor members gathered at Gate 7 of the Co-op Refinery Complex for a rally to show their resolve with the labour dispute into its fifth week.
Tuesday's rally was planned by the union to demonstrate solidarity between the locked out members as the dispute with their employer stretches into its second month.
Unifor Local 594 president Kevin Bittman says morale remains strong among the picketers, “People are still having a good time, there's so much on the line, the company is trying to take away half our pension and make us go back 15 per cent in the first year, so people know what's on the line and they're willing to fight for it,” he said.
The union and Co-op haven't met at the bargaining table since the labour dispute began in early December, however, Unifor says it has approached co-op about returning to negotiations.
"We reached to the employer [Monday], asked them if they were willing to get back to the bargaining table, get the concessions off the table, but obviously sit down and have an opportunity. We haven't heard back from them,” said Scott Doherty, Unifor Executive Assistant to the National President.
CTV News has reached out to Co-op for a comment, but we have yet to hear back.
If Co-op declines to return to the bargaining table, Unifor plans to escalate the boycott and picketing at the refinery.
Unifor announced at the rally that union members from across the country are travelling to Regina to join them on the picket lines.
“We have issued a national call, a call to action, to all Unifor locals across the country,” Lana Payne, Unifor’s National Secretary-Treasurer, said.
The union says that is part of their plan to increase the pressure on Co-op, which also includes doing more to expose replacement workers at the facility.
"You can see what we've done in the past, we're going to make sure people know that scabs aren't welcome and we don't welcome scabs at this facility,” Doherty said.
Unifor says it will be funding the additional picketers through their national defence fund, which is over $160-million and it plans on outlasting the company, however long that takes..