ICBC reaches deal with unionized workers

Executive ranks thinned as auto insurer restructures management

Unionized ICBC workers have ended their limited strike action after a tentative deal was reached on a new contract.

If ratified, they will get an immediate one per cent pay hike retroactive to July 1 and then another three per cent added in stages through 2013.

The 4,600 workers there had been without a contract since the spring of 2010 and the new four-year deal is to expire in mid-2014.

“The wage increases will keep our members from falling further behind and they will, at long last, get maternity and parental leave top-up,” said David Black, president of local 378 of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union.

Workers at ICBC offices had staged one-day strikes and were refusing overtime or training.

Ratification votes are taking place this week and the union recommended acceptance.

The deal came after ICBC announced Nov. 2 it will eliminate 250 jobs, mostly in management, as part of a major restructuring.

Five executives have been chopped,  leaving a nine-member executive, and a total of six executive or vice-president roles have been eliminated.

Officials said the changes go beyond the recommendations of a government review of ICBC this year, cutting the staff complement to below 2008 levels.

The review criticized the public auto insurer’s easy bonuses and generous expense policies, noting it had 54 senior managers making more than $200,000 a year – a more than four-fold increase from 2007.

ICBC responded with a pledge to cut its operating budget by $50 million.

The latest changes were announced by interim president and CEO Mark Blucher, who took over after the resignation of former president Jon Schubert.

The corporation is not in financial trouble. It routinely rings up big profits, to the point it now hands over annual dividends of around $165 million to the provincial government after amassing a nearly $4-billion reserve fund.