The B.C. Labour Relations Board issued its finding last week that ICBC has not been bargaining in good faith with COPE 378 members regarding monetary compensation.
The finding, put forward by the board's vice-chair, Bruce Wilkins, stated that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia could not use the provincial government's core review process as a reason to refuse to bargain on monetary issues with the union.
The Crown corporation had said it would not discuss monetary issues as part of the contract negotiations, as it does not know what the government's monetary mandate would be following the review, according to the finding from the board.
"Objectively speaking, the employer's refusal to bargain monetary issues until the government finishes its core review process places a clear impediment to reaching a collective agreement, which is in violation of the requirement to bargain in good faith," Wilkins stated in his finding. "In doing so, it is not making every reasonable effort to conclude a collective agreement."
Since the ruling, ICBC has committed to meeting with the Canadian Office and Professional Employees' Union, Local 378, on July 11,12, 19 and 20, according to Mark Jan Vrem, manager of media relations for the corporation. There may be more dates set for July, as well, he added.
"We are working with guidance from government on developing our wage proposals," Jan Vrem said in an email to the NOW, adding there are monetary and non-monetary issues still left to negotiate.
"We are committed to reaching a collective agreement with our unionized workers," he added.
Jeff Gillies, vice-president of Burnaby-based COPE 378, said he hopes the finding will help move bargaining forward.
"ICBC is not dealing with us properly and not dealing with our members' concerns at the bargaining table," Gillies said Monday. "But I believe that the labour board ruling will help out in that regard."
A day of bargaining was set for last Friday, two days after the ruling, at which time ICBC said it was withdrawing its refusal to negotiate on monetary items, he said.
"Our hope is that we'll get back to the table and we'll have some meaningful discussion that will conclude a collective agreement," Gillies added.
The union began job action on Friday with an overtime ban. Job action could escalate if things don't improve at the bargaining table, Gillies said, but added the union does not want to get drivers into the middle of the dispute.
Union members voted 87 per cent in favour of job action on April 24.
ICBC made an essential service application to the Labour Relations Board on April 19, suspending the union's ability to take action.
The board then handed down an interim order on June 13. The union can take job action with 48 hours' notice, "if the job action does not dip below the essential service levels applied for by ICBC."
The order is in place until the board issues a final order after the essential service hearings are finished.
The union's main concerns are wages, improved benefits, employees' workload, and job security, Gillies said in an interview in April.
ICBC wants claims, insurance and driver licensing services declared essential during any potential job action.
"Members of the public will suffer irreparable harm without an essential services designation, as strike action affects their safety, ability to receive income, disability payments, rehabilitation services and their eligibility to obtain and continue employment," the essential services application from ICBC stated. "Further, without an essential service designation, a strike would result in serious financial impact on a significant number of individuals and businesses within the province."
ICBC's collective agreement expired in 2010. The two parties have been in negotiations since January 2011.