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ICBC workers plan to strike Tuesday

Sep 12 2012

Vancouver Island's government-run insurance claim centres will face picket lines next week as part of a strike by employees.

Workers at the Insurance Corporation of B.C. say they plan to walk off the job at 55 claim centres on Tuesday as part of a contract dispute with the government.

All of ICBC's Island claim sites - including Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Duncan and Victoria - will be affected by the strike, according to a list provided by Local 378 of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union.

The union is required to maintain essential-service staffing levels at the offices, but warned the public to expect delays.

"There's very few people who will be working," said union local president David Black. "It might be very difficult to get an appointment in person that day."

People should try to reschedule appointments and respect the picket line, Black said.

More than 1,500 workers will be involved in the strike, including 174 from the Island. The union represents 4,600 ICBC employees, who have been without a collective agreement since 2010.

The labour dispute appears to centre mainly around wages.

The union has banned overtime, among other targeted job action. ICBC workers also participated in a one-day strike with the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union and Professional Employees Association this month.

"We're very much hoping that this action we've got scheduled on the 18th will be enough to get ICBC and government back to the table," Black said.

ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said customers would be advised to do business before or after the strike day.

"The likelihood is that our services levels at the affected locations will suffer as a result of this strike action and our customers will be inconvenienced - we apologize for that," Grossman said in a statement.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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