KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Road maintenance will be affected by the rash of cutbacks resulting from the B.C. Liberals’ recent budget, according to highway maintenance workers in the Kamloops region.
They were told they would have to consider accepting a major pay decrease in order to keep their jobs.
Tom Bone, general manager of Argo Road Maintenance, tells local media the Ministry of Transportation warned him the cost of highway maintenance contracts must decrease by 10 per cent and employee wages and benefits may be cut by up to 30 per cent.
The average employee wages and benefits amount to about $36 an hour, says Bone, and the government feels this is way too high.
The revelations came at a meeting in Vancouver last week between ministry officials, road builders and maintenance companies representing the 28 contract areas within the province. The Liberals indicated at the meeting they will introduce legislation in September, if the companies aren’t able to bring down maintenance costs on their own. Included may be the elimination of successorship, the clause requiring bidding companies to keep their work force at existing wage levels should they win a tender.
“If they took out successorship, then any contractor could bid, including non-unionized companies, and that would quickly bring down labor costs,” Bone tells local media. He adds it would quickly put his company out of business. “(The government) has given us the mandate to create our own destiny. Even though you’ve got a club hanging over your head, you’ve got the right to say no, and walk away, or sit down and negotiate and move on.”
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