January 30, 2020 / 5:10 PM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-FCL, union to resume workers' contract negotiations

(Adds discussion details, dispute background)

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, and Federated Cooperatives Ltd (FCL) said on Thursday they would resume formal discussions on contracts of workers at the Co-op Refinery on Jan. 31, following Unifor’s decision to comply with a court injunction.

FCL, which owns and operates the refinery in Regina, Saskatchewan, and workers have been locked in a dispute for months. The management locked out 800 workers on Dec. 5 in the dispute over pensions. (bit.ly/2uHm5wv)

Last week, police arrested the leader of Unifor and six others who joined workers blockading the refinery. Hundreds of union activists had surrounded the refinery then, effectively shutting it down.

The meeting is being held based on the mutual understanding that Unifor will follow the injunction order, allowing vehicle entry and exit at the refinery complex, FCL said in a statement.

“If it becomes clear at the table that FCL is still unwilling to engage in good faith negotiations, the union’s demand that (Saskatchewan) Premier (Scott) Moe step in still stands,” Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, said in a separate statement.

The Co-op Refinery has a capacity to process 135,000 barrels of oil per day, and FCL has kept western Canada’s third-largest oil refinery operating with replacement workers and managers.

The lockout comes as western Canadian oil producers in Saskatchewan and Alberta struggle to move crude to U.S. refiners, their main market, due to congested pipelines. (Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Maju Samuel)

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