04/25/2012 12:52 EDT | Updated 06/25/2012 05:12 EDT

87 per cent strike mandate backs contract demands by ICBC workers

VANCOUVER - Unionized workers at the Insurance Corporation of B.C. have voted 87 per cent in favour of job action.

The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 378 says its 4,600 members have been without a contract for two years, and they are frustrated.

COPE local vice president Jeff Gillies hopes the strong mandate will force the public automobile insurer to focus on a solution because 15 months of contract talks have not produced results.

Gillies says the union is considering its options and has no immediate plans to issue strike notice or take specific job action.

He says members are concerned that ICBC has applied to have some workers declared essential, and is also refusing to continue talks until a government review of ICBC is complete, although the review, announced in the 2011 Throne Speech, has not yet begun.

COPE says the government appears to be setting up the public for a long strike while ICBC waits for a bargaining mandate.