October 28, 2008 / 3:45 PM / in 9 years

Unions launch Petro-Canada boycott over lockout

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The umbrella group for Canadian trade unions said on Tuesday it is urging its 3.2 million members to boycott gas stations run by Petro-Canada in response to a lockout that began at its Montreal refinery nearly a year ago.

The Canadian Labor Congress said the 260 members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union remain off the job because Petro-Canada has refused to bargain in the same pattern as at other company plants in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

“With the clear intention of provoking a conflict, the company demanded a six-year term -- breaking one of the two basic issues (wages and length of agreement) agreed to by other companies in the pattern,” CEP President Dave Coles said in a statement. “It also piled on demands to take back gains achieved long ago.”

Petro-Canada has been running the 130,000 barrel a day refinery with managers and replacement workers through the dispute. It locked out its unionized employees on Nov 18, 2007.

Chief Executive Ron Brenneman has said the company is holding off on deciding to go ahead with building a coker to process heavy crude at the plant until the labor dispute is resolved.

Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Peter Galloway

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