Union asks Labour Relations Board to rule lockout illegal.
Vancouver (17 Aug. 2012) - The highways maintenance contractor in the East Kootenay region has violated B.C.'s labour code by issuing 72 hour lockout notice to highways workers, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) claims. If implemented, the lockout will take effect at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, August 19.
The BCGEU/NUPGE is applying to B.C.'s Labour Relations Board for a declaration that Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting Limited has failed to bargain in good faith and to prohibit them from locking out their employees until they have bargained in good faith.
"We believe the employer is in violation of the labour code by issuing lockout notice and not making every reasonable effort to conclude a collective agreement," says BCGEU President Darryl Walker.
The union sees the lockout notice as an attempt by the employer to pad their bottom line during a time of less intensive road maintenance. Highways contractors continue to receive regular payments for road maintenance, even when the work is not being performed due to a labour dispute.
"Why should taxpayers subsidize a company's profits when the work they were contracted to do on behalf of the public is not being done," asks BCGEU Operational Services Component chair Mike Nuyens. "There's little incentive for some contractors to negotiate a collective agreement when there is no real penalty for not delivering the service.
"With 27 of 28 highways contractors having reached agreements, one has to ask why one employer seems unwilling to sit down and negotiate a collective agreement with their workers. This surprise action by the employer has forced the union to take a strike vote, to ensure the bargaining process continues."
The lockout notice affects 95 BCGEU/NUPGE members who work out of seven highways maintenance yards in Highways Service Area 11 - which serves the area of eastern B.C., from Yahk in the southwest, to Elkford in the east and north to Edgewater and Vermillion Crossing.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE