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Premier promises mediator in Regina refinery dispute if union pulls blockades

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he’s prepared to appoint a special mediator to an intensifying contract dispute at the Co-op oil refinery in Regina, but only if the union removes its barricades.

Moe said he believes a negotiated settlement between Unifor and refinery owner Federated Co-operatives Ltd. is the best option to end the dispute.

The company locked out more than 700 workers in early December after the union issued strike notice.

Unifor has been calling on the premier to intervene.

If the union doesn’t remove the blockades, Moe said he expects police to enforce a court order that limits how long pickets can hold up refinery traffic.

Federated Co-operatives CEO Scott Banda said there’s a risk of fuel outages if the blockade stays up. He said it’s been frustrating that the blockade remains, despite the injunction.

Moe also expressed concern over potential fuel shortages. He said there has been an unwillingness on both sides to bargain in good faith and the contract dispute has devolved into illegal activity.

“This is not the Saskatchewan way,” Moe said during a speech Monday to hundreds of municipal leaders.

He said the special mediator would have broader powers than the mediator that was appointed last fall.