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Unsafe private highway trucks endanger workers and public

November 17, 2008

BCGEU calls for immediate system-wide safety audit of all maintenance vehicles

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) is demanding disclosure of all incidents in the past year where vehicles operated by private highways maintenance contractors flunked safety checks carried out by the province's commercial vehicle safety and enforcement branch.

The union, which represents 2,000 highways maintenance workers across B.C., is reacting to reports that a private highways contractor was caught operating vehicles so unsafe that a number of trucks were ordered out of service.

A government spokesperson admitted that a dozen pieces of heavy equipment operated by private highway contractor VSA in the Merritt area failed safety inspections on at least two occasions. Four trucks used in snow removal were in such poor mechanical state that they were put off the road.

"These are serious violations in which the well-being of our members and the travelling public has been put at risk," say BCGEU president Darryl Walker.

"That's why we're calling (for disclosure) of all recent violations. We also want (the Campbell government in) Victoria to carry out an immediate system-wide safety audit so that the public and front-line highways maintenance workers can be reassured that highways maintenance vehicles are in safe working order," Walker says.

"The problem is that the Campbell government allows contractors to oversee their own maintenance regimes. Independent scrutiny by the province's trained commercial vehicle safety experts happens only infrequently," says Walker. "This needs to change."

For more information contact:
Darryl Walker
President BCGEU
B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE)
Phone: 613-228-9800

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