Members of the Canadian Office and Professional Union local 378 held a one-day strike Wednesday in support of "fair and reasonable" wage increases for lower-level employees of the Insurance Corporation of B.C.
Drivers honked their support as dozens of COPE 378 picketers protested outside the ICBC Corporate Centre in Guildford. A total of 780 of the union's members were on the picketing lines throughout B.C.
"We've been without a collective agreement for over two years now," said David Black, the union's president. "We've been trying to negotiate with ICBC. We just can't seem to get ICBC's attention or the government's attention."
The picket was part of a larger movement involving more than 27,000 employees across ICBC, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the Professional Employees Association (PEA). The strike caused non-essential government services to shut down for the day, including government-owned liquor stores in the province.
Black cited last month's financial review of ICBC and noted the large wage increases upper management staff received in the last few years. From 2007-08, 48 ICBC employees made more than $150,000. From 2010-11, 105 ICBC employees made the same wage. He also said the 2012 budget and fiscal plan stated the provincial government will take $1.174 billion from ICBC between 2010 and 2014.
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"The executives got enormous, exorbitant raises, and the government is taking $1.2 billion out of ICBC, and yet they're saying there's no money for the people who do the work," he said. "We just don't buy that."
Lynda Faubert, one of the picketers, said, "They're wanting us to go another five without (a wage increase), so we're looking to change that."