It will be one year this September since I quit my job of 23 years as a government correctional worker in a young offender facility, in order to work at the Co-op refinery in Regina. I used to phrase it as I started working at the refinery in September, but I’ve actually only worked there for 3 months. During the last year I’ve been locked out for 7 months and then laid off. When I received my call back letter, I was beyond excited, only to learn approximately 2 weeks later that I was being “Temporarily” laid off. This, according to the company, was due to Covid-19 and the downturn of the economy.
I have experienced many different emotions over the last 9 months leading me to question who I should be more upset with. On one hand, I left an extremely high-stress job with the hopes that I would work at the refinery until I retired; but then I was locked out and 7 months later laid off due to “Covid-19". On the other hand, I feel like myself, and many others, placed blind trust in a handful of fellow employees, referred to simply as the executive. The Co-op Refinery has left me feeling like I’m being punished for standing alongside my fellow union members while they allow contract workers to do my job.
In regards to the struggle of being laid off: I know many of us have been pounding the internet looking for either temporary or permanent employment elsewhere. I’ve been blessed with the support of my family. My sister and her husband have found work for me on their farm and my parents have opened their home to me.
I left a permanent job with a higher wage and better benefits, to finally work for a company, where I immediately felt comfortable and safe, to now feeling abandoned by that same employer who says it prides itself on western family values. To now feeling even more supported by a union who, despite the learning curve and uphill battle, has supported myself and its members to the maximum of their abilities.
Stewart Kerslake, MRP