Highways workers in the North Peace region have given their bargaining committee an overwhelming strike mandate.
On June 12 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) employed by Yellowhead Road and Bridge (North Peace) Ltd. voted 95 % in favour of strike action.
The 71 workers employed by Yellowhead Road and Bridge (YRB) are responsible for maintaining more than 5,100 kilometres of roads and highways in the region which includes Fort St. John, Hudson Hope and Fort Nelson.
"Our negotiating committee is fully prepared to return to the table if and when YRB indicates a willingness to restart talks with some realistic proposals," said George Heyman, BCGEU president.
The union and employer are far apart on issues including wages, benefits and the length of the collective agreement.
"People in this region have watched the deterioration of roads and highways under the privatization of highways maintenance in British Columbia. Our members at YRB are standing up for a better collective agreement but they are also speaking out for better maintenance of our highways," Heyman said.
In the event of job action BCGEU members will maintain essential service levels and respond to emergency situations in the region.
More than 400 highways workers are already off the job in other parts of the province including Nicola-Merritt, the Prince George area, the north Okanagan and southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Combined they maintain almost 14,000 kilometres of roads and highways.