On behalf of members employed by Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc., the BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is calling on the company to ensure they meet the highway maintenance standards agreed to in their 10-year contract with the provincial government. This follows an incident last week in Cherryville B.C. where a school bus became stuck in a ditch due to snowy road conditions.
"Highway maintenance employees are some of the most conscientious people that care for the safety of all stakeholders on B.C. highways," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "They have done so for decades and will continue to do their best with the tools they are given."
In 2017 a landmark successorship agreement was reached to ensure the retention of over 2,000 experienced workers to maintain roads and bridges throughout British Columbia. When Acciona was awarded two new maintenance contracts in the Okanagan earlier this spring, they were required to honour the labour agreements already bargained with existing workers. This ensured that their staff had decades of experience and knowledge of what it takes to keep roads safe in their region.
"When an incident or accident occurs, it's emotional for all of us working on B.C. roads," says BCGEU operational services component vice president Rory Smith. "Our members continue to strive to provide their expertise and identify opportunities for continuous improvement."
Moving forward, the union will continue to work with members to ensure they are treated with respect by their employer and will be monitoring the situation in the Okanagan.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also has staff monitoring standards in each of the 28 service areas in B.C.'s highway maintenance system, and many times they are working through a storm event to monitor the level of performance of the contractor. In follow up to the concerns in Cherryville, the Ministry has advised that they are meeting with Acciona and the local school district.
The BCGEU encourages all travellers to drive safely as they head out on the roads this holiday season and that motorists ensure they have good winter tires, adjust their speed to conditions and check DriveBC before they head out.
The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C. representing 80,000 members. The operational services component represents 2,200 private sector highway workers and over 120 members employed at Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc.
For more information contact: Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org