Community, Health

Hospital lab staff to strike

Medlab South union staff have confirmed a 24-hour strike. Photo: Matt Brown.

Hospital lab staff are set to strike for 24 hours in protest over pay.

Union staff have voted to walk off the job next week from Wairau Hospital’s Southern Community Laboratories Ltd run lab.

Nelson Marlborough Health bosses say only urgent tests will be carried out.

General Manager Clinical Services Lexie O’Shea says staff are working in partnership with Medlab South to minimise disruption but warned there may be delays.

“All life-preserving services and emergency services will remain operational.

“Clinically urgent requests sent to the laboratories will be processed during the strike period.

“However, turnaround times may be delayed.”

The strike also affects Nelson Hospital which is run by the same provider.

The Medical Laboratory Workers employed by Southern Community Laboratories (SCL) Ltd are bargaining for a fair pay offer.

Staff have turned down the current rise offer, with union advocates APEX branding the move as unfair.

The offer “goes nowhere near” matching what staff employed by the District Health Board get, says APEX Senior Advocate David Munro

“The current offer from the employer goes nowhere near to matching the salaries of colleagues employed in the DHB run laboratories.

“Under their proposed pay offer a fully qualified scientist would be paid 4 per cent behind a colleague in a DHB lab doing the same work, and a qualified technician 6 per cent behind,” says David.

The strike is scheduled to take place on 17 August from 0800 Monday 17 August to 0800 Tuesday 18 August 2020.

Since lockdown level 4, all blood tests have been done via an appointment system.

Urgent blood tests can usually be done on the same day at either the Maxwell Road or Wairau Hospital collection centres.

Lexi says people should check with their GP before presenting to a collection centre.

“Some non-urgent procedures and tests may need to be rescheduled.

“Any affected patients will be contacted directly. We want to reassure people that unless they hear from us directly, they can assume that their appointment or procedure will be going ahead,” she says.

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