Following consultation with members and delegates at Southern Community Laboratories, APEX has withdrawn the notice to strike for 24 hours on Monday 17 August 2020 at Southern Community Laboratories (SCL). The proposed strike was in support of bargaining for a fair pay offer from a strong and profitable private sector provider of medical laboratory testing. SCL runs all medical laboratories from Wellington south, excepting Canterbury Labs in Christchurch and the hospital laboratory in Westport.

“Although the SCL labs are not subject to Covid Alert Level 3, being all outside of the Auckland region, it is clear that the intensive ramping up of Covid testing will require the capacity of SCL labs in addition to the Auckland DHB labs and ESR. In this context the SCL APEX members have decided not to risk any disruption to testing that could have occurred due to their strike,” said APEX Laboratory National Advocate David Munro.

“Our members are very frustrated by the current situation. SCL is refusing to pay a minimum living wage, adequately deal with our pay equity concerns for phlebotomists and technicians, and match scientist pay rates to comparable professions such as teaching and nursing,” continued Mr Munro.

“Medical laboratory workers are at the frontline of the Team of 5 million in fighting Covid 19; they are proud of their role and committed to the work they do. Meanwhile their foreign owned private sector employer still won’t make a pay offer to match salary rates paid by the DHBs to laboratory staff.”

“Today our members decided to put the safety of the country ahead of their pay dispute, tomorrow we need SCL to put settling our claims for fair pay before their shareholders’ profits,” concluded Mr Munro.

Partial strike action at SCL labs will commence in the week beginning 24th August, and members are now balloting on a full day of strike action on 4 September 2020.


Contact: David Munro

Laboratories National Advocate APEX
Phone (09) 526 0280

Mobile (027) 276 9999


What is a Medical Laboratory Worker?

Medical Laboratory Workers are registered health professionals who run laboratories and test, interpret and report laboratory results. They are trained to identify disease and abnormalities through studying blood, tissue and other bodily samples. Laboratory workers work ‘behind the scenes’ but remain an integral part of the health system whose work is vital to patient treatment. More than 90% of prescribed treatments require laboratory input to aid/confirm diagnosis or to monitor drug levels or disease progression.

Medical laboratory science is a bit like detective work. Workers look for answers to the disease ‘puzzle’ to help doctors diagnose and treat their patients. They answer questions such as: are these cells abnormal? What do these blood cells tell us about this person’s health? How does it fit in with their other symptoms? How much of drug ‘x’ is in this person’s blood? Is it working effectively? What bug is making this person sick?

Medical Laboratory Workers take on a high level of responsibility, often needing to make important decisions under pressure. Emergencies can occur at any time, day or night, so laboratory workers have to prioritise and use their initiative, often without much back-up. If the doctor needs to know the answer, they have to deliver. Sometimes this means working through the night providing results while patients fight for their life in another part of the hospital or a surgeon waits, mid-operation, for a phone call.

Responsibilities include developing, adapting and applying scientific methods of analysis and ensuring high standards of quality assurance. An understanding of the methodology and theory behind complicated, technical and automated equipment is essential, as is developing the skills necessary to identify and interpret abnormalities under the microscope or via other diagnostic technology. Laboratory workers are highly regarded and sought after worldwide.

Learn more about the APEX Medical Laboratory Workers division.


Contact APEX