Campbell River ICBC employees join province-wide one day strike

About 1,600 workers were on strike at 55 claims-related locations across B.C.

ICBC (Insurance Corporation of B.C.) workers in Campbell River joined their counterparts across the province in a one-day strike last week to protest wage freezes and government draws from ICBC revenues.

Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) members representing ICBC demonstrated with sandwich boards outside the claims centre on 12th Avenue Sept.18.

About 1,600 workers were on strike at 55 claims-related locations across B.C. with essential service levels maintained to abide by a May Labour Relations Board ruling.

The union has been without a contract since 2010 and voted 87 per cent in favour of strike action in April to support demands for wage increases in line with the cost of living.

David Black, the president of COPE 378, said it’s not something the union takes lightly.

“We haven’t been on strike at ICBC in over thirty years, but this is about fundamentals,” Black said in a news release. “It’s about saying you can’t ask hard-working people to go two years without a basic fair contract.”

At the time of the union’s strike vote, members were asking for five per cent pay raises in 2012 and in 2013, while the government has a zero mandate, or no wage increase policy, unless savings can be found from within the union to make up the extra dollars.

Adding to the union’s frustration is the province’s decision to siphon millions of ICBC profits each year for general revenue.

“The government’s 2012 budget and fiscal plan states that they will take $1.17 billion from ICBC between 2010 and 2014,” said a press release from COPE 378.

Black said while ICBC workers are losing out, auto body shops, lawyers and other professionals who have contracts with ICBC are receiving increased compensation from the insurance company.

While the Sept. 18 strike was aimed at getting the employer’s – and the public’s – attention, the union said it would ensure drivers were not inconvenienced or stuck in the middle of the dispute.