REGINA, Sask. – Truck drivers servicing Regina’s Co-op Refinery will protest what they view as illegal barricades that currently surround the complex, demanding they be removed to restore truck access to the facility.
The protest will take place at the same time as a press conference, which will be held by Independent Lease Operators who haul fuel for Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) and the Co-op Refinery at 10 a.m. Feb. 6 outside Regina City Hall.
During the press conference, lease operators will share their views and concerns with the barricade. At the same time, truck drivers will make laps around downtown Regina, including the Regina Police Services station, to raise awareness of the situation that has been going on at the Co-op Refinery for some time now.
Lease Operators say they do respect Unifor, the union representing refinery workers, and members’ right to picket, but say the illegal barricade does not represent peaceful protest and needs to come down immediately.
Media reports have indicated that drivers have experienced harassment and sabotage from some picketers, and financial hardship as a result of the barricade.
With the barricade now being in place for nearly three weeks, carriers hauling in and out of the refinery say they are facing the possibility of severe financial hardship, potential employee layoffs, and some claim to be close to closing their doors permanently.
With the labor dispute between Unifor and the FCL ongoing since Dec. 5, the situation has also spurred reaction from the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA).
“Trucking companies and their drivers do not make money if the wheels are not turning. These are private companies and STA members that haul for Co-op and locking them down is having a negative impact,” said STA executive president Susan Ewart. “There are rules about how long drivers can be on duty. As they sit on the side of the road, the hours in which they can earn an income tick away. There is no wiggle room here, once they are out of time, they are out of time and done for the day.”
Twenty-six independent fleets haul products for the refinery, and the STA has urged everyone to respect all workers, saying the trucking industry plays a critical role in the economy and drivers are worthy of respect.
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