$7.5b Surplus Whilst Laboratory Workers Strike for Equal Pay
On Friday 11 October, Medical Laboratory Workers at nine District Health Boards (DHBs) and the New Zealand Blood Service will undergo a full withdrawal of labour after their employers failed to recognise their worth with an equitable salary offer.
APEX, the majority union for laboratory workers, rejected a salary offer over two months ago which would see medical laboratory workers paid approximately two years behind their colleagues in the same or similar roles. No attempts have been made by the DHBs to improve this offer, despite multiple meetings and strike notices issued.
“The work of medical laboratory employees leads to the diagnosis of 90% of all patient disorders. They are crucial to New Zealand’s health workforce, yet they are constantly short-changed and met with excuses that the money’s not there. Clearly the money is there, and Laboratory Workers will not take anything less than what their work is worth,” says David Munro, APEX Senior Advocate for Laboratory Workers.
The time has come for Minister Clark to lobby the Minister of Finance for a significant portion of the $7.5b government surplus to not only give a fair and equitable settlement to the 500 Laboratory Workers striking tomorrow, but also to the 1100 Radiographers and 600 Psychologists also undertaking ongoing strike action.
Contact: David Munro
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 a patient fights 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 are 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.