Work will be slowing down at the Kamloops Claims Centre and other ICBC operations throughout the province Thursday.
Sage Aaron of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) local 378 gave 48 hours’ notice Tuesday that they would be reducing their workloads to the levels determined in a 1996 study.
That’s the most recently completed study on workloads and union members have said the move will have an impact.
“By everything we’ve heard from our members, it’s one-half to one-third of the workload they’re struggling under,” she said Wednesday.
Aaron said the union has been calling for increased staffing levels for years, and that workload and wages are two of the main issues in contract negotiations.
The union’s contract expired two years ago. Bargaining is next slated for Oct. 23 and 24, and the workload reduction is aimed at putting more pressure on the employer to consider the union’s issues.
The union voted for strike action in April, but an application by administration put any further steps on hold for months.
The Kamloops Claims Centre has 48 COPE members, from administrative workers to adjusters. Aaron said eight of them have been declared as essential and won’t participate in the job action.
The others will meet the 1996 standards, which she said should mean better service for customers, but longer waits.
“Claims adjustors can go through the process in a very thorough manner and give people a level of customer service they’re entitled to,” she said. “Our members have felt pressured to finish work after hours, at home and on their breaks just to keep up.”
The job action will be ongoing, but the union will re-evaluate it if necessary.
“At this point, we’re hoping to put some pressure on ICBC and the government to negotiate a fair and reasonable agreement.”
She said the employer has asked for a four-year contract, with zero per cent increases in the first two years and one per cent in each of the third and fourth years.
“That’s way below cost of living. We want to see members keep pace with cost of living in first two years and more than that in last two,” said Aaron.