April 6, 2020
With the COVID-19 crisis causing an unimaginable downturn in Saskatchewan’s economy the Co-op Refinery must shoulder some blame as well. Their deplorable move to lockout 730 workers must not be overlooked as it has severely compounded the province’s struggles during the pandemic.
The Unifor 594 members and their families are without their regular income and have been scraping by on lockout pay since December 5th. They have cut back spending habits and are no longer paying income taxes. Many local businesses, especially restaurants and pubs, have publicly commented on the noticeable decline in revenue since the lockout began over four months ago.
For example, the average wage of a unionized worker at the Co-op Refinery was $104,000. Of that, $10,029 went to provincial income tax and $16,646 went to federal income tax. If we multiply those figures by the roughly 730 employees locked out by FCL, we find that employees pay $7,321,170 to the province and $12,151,580 to the federal government every year just in income tax revenues.
That money goes to maintain our roads, hospitals, and critical infrastructure. Additional polling of unionized workers shows that they spend roughly 80% of their money in the local community. That spin-off spending helps pay other workers wages, which they, in turn, spend in the local community. That money circulates and re-invests itself into the community several times over. Being taxed every step along the way of course.
With the Co-op Refinery currently housing a scab camp onsite and employing out of province workers, the local economy is suffering. The replacement workers are not supporting local restaurants because food is supplied in the work camp. The replacement workers are not fueling other businesses like home improvement & renovation companies or car sales & repair shops because they don’t live here permanently. They are instead hoarding wages and taking them out of the province. The scab workers don’t pay income tax to the province of Saskatchewan, as the money they make here will be taxed in their home province. The only entity benefiting from the lockout is the Co-op Refinery.
We should all be supporting local businesses at this time, but also local workers. It’s not acceptable to have nearly 1% of the working households in Regina out of work. As crazy as it sounds our 730 members would love to be paying taxes right now. But we can’t because we are locked out.
If the Government of Saskatchewan wants to boost the economy, they need to put Unifor 594 back to work. Plain and simple.