ICBC's unionized employees have the right to strike after June 30, according to an interim order from the B.C. Labour Relations Board.
The members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 - which is based in Burnaby - voted 87 per cent in favour of job action on April 24.
The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia made an essential service application to the Labour Relations Board on April 19, suspending the union's ability to take action.
The board handed down the interim order on June 13, according to a press release from the union.
The union can issue an overtime ban until June 30 and can take job action with 48 hours' notice after that date, "if the job action does not dip below the essential service levels applied for by ICBC."
"This is a mixed blessing," COPE 378's vice-president Jeff Gillies said in the release. "Our intent was never to put the driving public in the middle of our dispute with the government, so the essential service levels - which we are still fighting at the Labour Relations Board - won't hinder our ability to take strategic, targeted job action."
The order is in place until the board issues a final order after the essential service hearings are finished.
The union plans to issue 72-hour strike notice at some point in June, according to the release.
The main issues are wages, improved benefits, employees' workload and job security, Gillies said in an interview in April.
Thus far, the Crown corporation has not offered the union anything but is asking for a five-year collective agreement, he added.
"If they want some security through a five-year period, they have to offer up reasonable wage increases and improved benefits to our members through that process," he said.
ICBC has put forward zero wage increases for the fiveyear-period, he added.
"That's not acceptable to our members," he said. The union is also concerned about the heavy workloads of its members, Gillies said, adding more employees are needed, especially at the claims centres.
Another issue is job security, particularly as ICBC's transformation plan is implemented, he said.
While the union is open to improvements and upgrades that make serving customers easier, Gillies said, it also needs to ensure the jobs of its 4,600 members are safe.
The union is also concerned about ICBC contracting estimating services out, he added.
The Crown corporation wants claims, insurance and driver licensing services declared essential.
"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," states ICBC's essential services application.
"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."
This is the first time ICBC has gone forward with an essential services application, according to Mark Jan Vrem, spokesperson for ICBC.
ICBC hopes the collective agreement can be settled without a strike, he said in April.
"We hopefully will be able to settle our differences at the negotiating table and proceed without job action, but that remains to be seen," he said.
Jan Vrem would not give specifics on what ICBC was putting on the table, saying that is something for the two sides to discuss.
The Labour Relations Board got the go ahead from the B.C. Minister of Labour to deal with the essential services application in April, according to Wayne Mullins, a Labour Relations Board information officer.
"We get the employer and union to sit down with the mediator to see if they can agree on what are essential services," Mullins said, adding that the parties are usually able to do that during the discussions.
If they aren't, the mediator hears from both sides and makes a decision, he added.
The next step is figuring out how those essential services will be delivered, Mullins said.
The board looks first to management to staff the essential services but if that isn't possible or there aren't enough people to fill the positions, they designate people who might otherwise be on strike to do so.
It is possible that the two parties could reach a collective agreement before the essential services order is ever implemented, Mullins said, adding it is difficult to predict a timeline on that, as each case is unique.
ICBC's collective agreement expired in 2010. The two parties have been in negotiations since January 2011.