Discovery Co-op announced Thursday they are imposing daily maximum fuel restrictions at their Cardlock locations “until further notice,” according to their Facebook page.
The restrictions are among those imposed by Co-ops across Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as a result of the labour action at Federated Co-operatives Ltd’s refinery complex in Regina. A daily maximum of 300 litres of diesel and 100 litres of gasoline per card has been put in place at all of those cardlock locations.
Discovery Co-op operates locations in the Battlefords and surrounding area. They are pointing the finger at the Unifor union, and the blockades at the Regina refinery, for the restrictions.
“Due to Unifor’s illegal blockades at our complexes, we are experienc(ing) periodic delivery delays. Further court action is occurring this week, and we are hopeful lawful access will be restored to the refinery and other locations soon.”
It was also noted the refinery “is producing petroleum at normal seasonal levels. Once lawful access is restored, we anticipate the restrictions will be removed.”
In addition, other area Co-ops have similar product restrictions in place. Both Delta Co-op in the Unity/Wilkie area, as well as Turtleford & District Co-op, also put notices up on their Facebook pages, indicating that the daily restrictions of 300 litres diesel and 100 litres for gasoline were in effect. Delta Co-op also noted at their Facebook page that they are "experiencing periodic delivery delays."
The labour dispute is now into its third month. On Thursday the Unifor 594 union members issued an open letter to management, saying they are prepared to accept binding arbitration to end the lockout. The provincial NDP opposition issued a news release Friday calling for Premier Scott Moe to recall the legislature to deal with the situation, while also calling for binding arbitration.
While rumors have run rampant about fuel outages possibly impacting the Co-op locations in the Northwest region, none have been confirmed so far. However, Federated Co-operatives Ltd. has acknowledged in news releases this week that periodic fuel outages have been hitting Co-op gas stations in Alberta and Manitoba and sporadically in Saskatchewan.
The company has stated fuel for smaller locations is being prioritized, since in many of these locations Co-op is the only fuel source. They also stated that fuel is being prioritized for emergency service providers.
In a news release issued Wednesday, Federated Co-operatives Ltd. stated the Unifor blockade was impacting the flow of fuel to Alberta’s Co-op gas stations.
According to that news release, “this week a number of Co-op gas bars and cardlocks in southern Alberta will face periodic fuel outages. While FCL is doing all we can to prioritize deliveries to maintain critical supply, these outages will almost certainly effect smaller Alberta communities where Co-op is one of the few – or sometimes the only – source of gasoline and diesel fuel.”
Manitoba has also been hard-hit. Red River Co-op confirmed on their own Facebook page this week that their gas bars were experiencing “significant fuel shortages,” and blamed the Unifor blockades for the situation.
“People have the right to peaceful pickets, but what Unifor is doing is anything but. These illegal blockades and dangerous behavior exhibited by Unifor members has been brought to Winnipeg and Unifor is holding our cooperative hostage.”
On Friday, FCL issued a news release reporting that Regina Police Service has temporarily restricted Ninth Avenue to local traffic only, allowing Co-op Refinery Complex to have access to the gates along Ninth Avenue from Winnipeg St. to McDonald St. Terminal. The illegal barricades were being removed from Ninth Avenue, and the company stated that fuel trucks have begun loading today as “the CRC ensures much-needed fuel gets to the communities that need it.”