On March 2-3 representatives of the BCGEU met with highways contractors in an attempt to resolve the failure to implement the Health Spending Account (HSA).
The BCGEU and highways contractors agreed the issue needed to be resolved on a provincial basis, not area by area. Labour Relations Board mediator Mark Atkinson assisted with the negotiations.
During the negotiations a framework was discussed to resolve the outstanding grievances and both parties agreed that additional dates would be required.
Unfortunately, since that time the B.C. Road Builders Association has changed their position. They are no longer willing to discuss the framework or pursue potential resolution to the HSA issue.
Significant time and effort has been put into attempting to resolve this issue and for the employer community to change direction at this stage is unexpected and disappointing.
The B.C. Road Builders Association bargaining committee chairperson has resigned from that position. It is not clear whether a replacement chairperson will be appointed. The direction of the employer community is unclear at this time.
The Health Spending Account was negotiated in good faith as a new benefit for auxiliary members. It is an important piece of the new collective agreement that was ratified by highways workers. We believe the failure to implement the HSA is a violation of the terms of the provincial agreement and the local collective agreements.
We will continue to look to the grievance/arbitration procedure as a way to resolve this issue.
Mike Nuyens - Component Chairperson
Jim Manson - Highways Bargaining Committee Chairperson
Gary Bennett – Staff Representative, Negotiations