Four arrested in Regina Co-op Refinery labor dispute

by Truck News

REGINA, Sask. – Four people have been arrested for mischief and disobeying a court order related to the labor dispute at Regina’s Co-op Refinery complex.

Reginal Police Services arrested Ryan James David Briggs, 41, James Peter Robert Cheeseman, 30, Scott McKinnon, 34, and Steve Angus Vargo, 45, at approximately 12:42 a.m. today. Each are charged with mischief under $5,000 for “willfully obstructing, interrupting, or interfering with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property” at the Co-op Refinery.

They are also accused and charged with disobeying the court order put in place by the Court of Queen’s Bench Dec. 27 to not impede, obstruct, or interfere with the ingress or egress to or from the complex.

Each of the accused is set to appear in court March 23 to address the charges.

A dispute between refinery owner Federated Co-operatives Ltd. and the union representing workers, Unifor, has been ongoing since December.

The ongoing labor dispute between union members and the Regina Co-op Refinery has also led to picketers said to be blocking cardlock customers and fuel trucks from accessing Federated Co-operatives Ltd.’s (FCL) fuel distribution terminal near Carseland, Alta.

Unifor union members are reported to have set up fencing around the fuel terminal.

Union members have also been accused of illegally vandalizing and blocking trucks from entering and exiting the refinery, breaking a court order which stated picketers were only permitted to hold up trucks for up to five minutes with or without permission.

“We respect the union’s right to picket, share information and disrupt our normal course of business within the bounds set by the courts,” said Vic Huard, FCL’s executive vice-president of customer experience and stakeholder engagement. “But Unifor’s use of blockades and disregard for the rule of law go beyond peaceful picketing.

“We believe that Unifor does not understand the role that the energy sector plays in driving our economy and sustaining vibrant communities across Western Canada. We also do not believe that Toronto-based Unifor’s aggressive and illegal tactics align with western Canadians’ values.”

Unifor claims its attempts to return to the bargaining table with FCL has been met with opposition.

“We informed the employer that we were prepared to make a proposal to bring a resolution to the dispute, including modifying our position on the two contentious pension demands the employer said were impeding talks and they still refuse to meet us at the bargaining table,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president at a news conference in Regina Jan. 23. “It’s becoming abundantly clear that when FCL locked out Local 594 members on Dec. 5, they had no intention of ever trying to negotiate a fair settlement.”

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