Union issues strike notice at ICBC

Overtime ban first stage of slow escalation in job action at auto insurer

The union representing ICBC workers declared 72-hour strike notice June 26.

The union representing workers at ICBC has issued 72-hour strike notice.

But job action will start slowly, with a ban on overtime starting July 6, according to COPE 378 vice-president Jeff Gillies.

He said the union will give at least 48 hours warning of any further escalation in the job action.

“This is about implementing what we’ve said all along will be a series of prudent, targeted job actions that will put pressure on ICBC and the government without hurting B.C. drivers,” Gillies said.

Unionized ICBC workers previously voted 87 per cent to provide the strike mandate to back contract demands.

COPE initially wanted five per cent pay raises for each of 2012 and 2013 but has since trimmed that request.

It now wants a four-year deal providing cost-of-living adjustments in each year, plus an extra two per cent in each of the final two years.

ICBC has proposed a five-year contract with no pay hikes.

The union argues the provincial government has used ICBC as an ATM – siphoning $1.2 billion in surpluses out of the public auto insurer over five years – and therefore money is available to fund higher wages.

The Labour Relations Board issued an interim order requiring some of ICBC’s 4,600 workers to continue to work in areas of claims, driver licensing, insurance and information to maintain essential services.

ICBC officials have said they have no mandate from the province to bargain on monetary issues pending a provincial review of ICBC’s operations.

“We are committed to reaching a collective agreement with our unionized workers,” an ICBC spokesman said in a statement.