Friday, February 01, 2008

Since last November 17th 260 workers represented by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union have been locked out by Petro-Canada management at the Pointe aux Trembles refinery in Quebec. This followed more than a year of heated contract negotiations. The refinery is presently being run by a staff of 130 managers and administrators. Since then the Quebec government appointed mediator, Robert Dupuis, has held one meeting between the company and the union. The company had the arrogance to add three more rollbacks to the 20 rollbacks already present in their previous "final offer", and they also withdrew their offer of a retroactive wage increase in the first year of a new contract.
Management is insisting on a six year, rather than three year, contract. The union says that they will accept this providing that they achieve full wage parity with other Petro-Can workers in Ontario and Alberta. The company, for its part, wants to break this "national pattern" and only offer such parity at the back-end of a contract. The company also wants clawbacks on various health and safety issues, training and senority rights, but the main point in contention is the efforts of Petro-Can to break the pattern of national parity at its various facilities across the country.
This issue is so important to the company that they, as the union points out, are willing to compromise the safety of the community in which the refinery is located by running it with managers that are overwhelmingly untrained, and with a bare skeleton staff. The union (see the highlighted link above) has called for a boycott of Petro-Can products on the part of consumers to express their displeasure over the callous disregard for safety that the company has shown. The online labour solidarity site, Labour Start, also has a petition where you can sign up to pressure the company to settle this dispute. Labour Start points out an an inquiry into a 2005 refinery explosion at a BP plant in Texas, whiuch killed 15 people, pointed out that fatigue and poor training (such as now occuring at Pointe aux Trembles) were behind the accident. So sign the petition and boycott Petro-Can !

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