General trade union Unifor’s president Jerry Dias was arrested by Regina Police Monday evening during a workers’ demonstration against Federated Co-op Ltd., a wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing and administrative co-operative in the agricultural industry.
“We’re standing up for workers’ pensions. We’re standing up for workers’ rights. And this is how they treat use here. We’ll stand every day to defend workers,” said western regional director of Unifor Gavin McGarrigle in a short video posted by Unifor’s Twitter account. The footage shows Dias and McGarrigle being dragged away by Regina Police.
In the tweet Unifor describes Federated Co-op Ltd. as “greedy” and called for people to “BoycottCoop”.
“FCL has made it clear for many months that we respect the collective bargaining process and have on a number of occasions presented modifications to our proposals. In response, Unifor 594 has demanded that FCL agree to an ‘irrevocable clause’ guaranteeing no changes – now or ever – to the defined benefits (DB) pension plan before any further talks could take place,” said FCL president of the board Sharon Alford in a statement, saying the strike was caused by Unifor.
“We simply cannot agree to that demand, and as a result, no meaningful bargaining has taken place since Unifor 594 stopped talking on Sept. 26, 2019 (including during the mediation that took place in October). Again, it is worth noting that the CRC did not commence construction of business continuity facilities on-site until the final, Unifor-driven break down of mediation in October,” Alford continued.
“Unifor members have a right to picket; Co-op has a right to conduct business. In an emotionally charged environment, there will be disagreements, but the Regina Police Service continues to communicate very closely with both parties in the dispute,” read a statement sent out by Regina Police Service Monday before the arrest.
Regina Police also advised motorists to stay away from the area where the workers were picketing was causing traffic delays.
Dias is a prominent union president who has previously said “f**k you” to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and attacked Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on behalf of thousands of journalists and other media industry workers when Unifor actively pursued a bailout for the industry from the federal government.
Unifor is a very influential and large union in Canada representing tens of thousands of workers, including in telecommunications, media, transportation (road, air, rail and marine), forestry, energy, mining, fisheries, construction, manufacturing, education, health care, etc.