February 5, 2015 / 4:39 PM / 4 years ago

Potential strike looms at Come By Chance, Newfoundland oil refinery

NEW YORK (Reuters) - SilverRange Financial Partners and the local union at the oil refinery in Come By Chance, Newfoundland, Canada, have come to an impasse over a new contract, and a mid-March strike looms unless the two sides can break the deadlock, the union’s chief negotiator said Thursday.

The negotiations, which have spanned about four weeks, appear headed to a government-mandated conciliatory process unless a last-minute deal is struck, said Boyd Bussey, a United Steelworkers staff representative and chief negotiator for the local union.

The local USW contract expired on Jan 1, and the company made their final offer on Thursday.

“We didn’t feel it was the a good enough offer, and we didn’t ask our members to vote on it,” Bussey said.

The workers at the 115,000-barrel-per-day refinery are the only group certified by the USW in Canada, but the negotiations are separate from the heated talks in the United States, which deadlocked on Sunday and resulted in strikes at seven refineries and two chemical plants.

The negotiations at Come By Chance are the first for the owners since they bought the refinery in November. SilverRange is a New York-based merchant bank run by veteran energy traders, Neal Shear and Kaushik Amin.

The company is owned by SilverPeak Partners, a real estate fund with over $12 billion in assets under management, according to its website.

SilverRange officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The two sides disagree on the length of the contract and scheduled pay raises, a person familiar with the negotiations said.

The company is seeking a five-year contract that includes no increase in the first year and climbs to 3 percent in the final year, said the person who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about negotiations.

The union is seeking a three-year contract with annual raises of 3 percent, the person said.

Bussey said he hopes to have one more negotiating session before the union requests a government conciliator to help bring the sides together. Newfoundland requires a conciliatory process before the union can strike, which could come by mid-March at the earliest, Bussey said.

“We are hoping to avoid that, but we’re going to have to see how the members feel,” Bussey said.

Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Grant McCool

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