Petro-Canada workers accept agreement: union

Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:01am EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Workers at a Petro-Canada refinery in Montreal have voted overwhelmingly to accept a new labor agreement to end a 13-month lockout by the company, their union said on Tuesday.

Petro-Canada, the country's No. 4 oil exploration and refining company, locked out 260 workers at the 130,000 bpd refinery in November 2007 after union members voted to authorize a strike. It kept the facility running using management replacement workers.

The three-year agreement provides for retroactive wage increases of 5.0 percent, 4.5 percent and 4.5 percent, a one-time bonus and other benefits, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada said in a release.

"On the key issue in the dispute, the settlement provides for an automatic extension of the collective agreement when it expires in 2010 based on the union's national energy bargaining settlement that is achieved at Petro-Canada's Edmonton refinery in the next round of national bargaining," the union said.

The locked-out workers are scheduled for a full return on January 12.

Petro-Canada has been mulling construction of a C$1 billion ($820 million) coker unit at the facility, which would allow it to process heavy crudes from the Alberta oil sands or elsewhere and lower feedstock costs.

Petro-Canada had delayed making a final decision on whether to proceed while its workers were locked out.

The company could not be reached for immediate comment.

(Reporting by Frank McGurty and Scott Haggett)