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Negotiations break down at Co-op refinery

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

"New workers with the same training and the same skills deserve the same benefits. It's that simple," said Kate McKinley, Unifor National Representative. "We won't let the employer cheapen the quality of jobs for current employees or future ones."

In addition to degrading the pension plan for new employees, Co-op is also demanding two-tiered wages in some areas of the refinery and attempting to increase its power to contract out work outside of the union. Unlike most other unionised companies in the energy sector, Co-op is refusing to bargain the national pattern established last year with Suncor.

Located in Regina the Co-op refinery complex is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), a firm that made upwards of US$500 million in profit in 2016.

"We won't accept concessions from a company as profitable as FCL," said McKinley.

The collective agreement between Local 594 and Co-op expired over one year ago in January 2016. Unifor has met with the employer 21 times in bargaining until an impasse was reached in January 2017. The union entered mandatory mediation in good faith with Co-op during March 3 – 5 but the employer still refuses to drop its most aggressive concessions. Unifor Local 594 represents nearly 800 workers at the Co-op refinery.

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