Some people seem to think that FCL (Federated Cooperatives, Ltd – Co-op’s management) will pass on savings to members and customers through lowering their contribution to pensions, or perhaps, if they fire all of Refinery workers on lockout and replace them with non-unionised workers. This falls under the category of what we might call wishful thinking.
First of all, Co-op and FCL do not have the power to control gas pricing. Gas prices are set on the world market, and that’s really all there is to it. Co-op even tried to lower gas prices when Unifor’s Boycott Co-op campaign began, but rather than the other stations lowering prices, Co-op just ended up raising theirs once again, to match everyone else’s prices. They do not have the power, nor sway, to set gasoline prices.
Second to this point, we have all clearly seen how the leadership team at both the Co-op Refinery, and FCL in recent years are choosing a direction of more corporatization and emphasis on profit at the expense of people working for them. Does anyone really believe that if FCL somehow managed to lower costs, or saw an increased margin, they would simply lower their prices to help out everyday people? At one time, an organization with “cooperative values” might have considered this; but today, Co-op is led by people willing to spend millions of dollars a month running smear campaigns against their own employees. Yet somehow, people feel that they’ll stand up and keep their margins low, so that Western Canada as a whole can benefit by lowered prices at the pumps.
Some people we’ve talked to feel that Co-op might sell for lower prices to increase market share and raise profits that way, but many Co-op’s are located in more remote locations where they are the only stations with no competition, and therefore no market share to gain.
So, the notion of Co-op passing along savings to members, if they successfully attack Refinery workers’ pensions and claw them back, is a fantasy. Members and other Co-op customers have nothing to gain from Refinery workers pensions’ from being clawed back, just as we gained nothing from Saskatoon grocery workers having a wage clawback imposed on new hires. Instead, members and workers have common interests in opposing the corporatization of Co-op.
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