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Strike action or a labour lockout could be on the cards for a major Saskatchewan oil refinery after hundreds of unionized workers voted to reject a contract offer.

Almost 650 members of Unifor Local 594 voted against the agreement on Monday despite the company – Co-op Refinery Complex – insisting the offer would be its final one.

Union president Kevin Bittman declined to release the specific result but said staff had overwhelmingly voted against the agreement – as he had previously advised them to do.

A two-week cooling-off period is in place until March 30 but after that the union can issue a 48-hour strike notice and Co-op can do the same for a lock-out.

Vic Huard, executive vice-president at the Regina-based oil refinery, has since spoken out about the decision, admitting it was disappointing but not unexpected.

“We’ve gone as far as we can go and we’ve made that very clear,” he said, noting that the firm was still willing to talk but would not be changing its most recent offer.

In contrast, the union claims Co-op is demanding too many concessions, including pension changes and the implementation of a seven-day work week – without talking about the details beforehand.

The refinery workers’ last contract expired in January 2016 – 800 employees will be covered by the negotiations.

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Source: hrmonline.com

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