Laboratory Workers Strike to Secure Fair Offer

Medical Laboratory Workers and NZ Blood Service employees who are members of APEX in Canterbury will picket outside Christchurch Hospital between midday and 2.00pm on Wednesday 13th November.  The picket is in support of strike action to secure a fair offer to settle the National Laboratory MECA.

APEX President and Medical Laboratory Scientist Stewart Smith points out that commented that ‘Nigel Trainer – lead Chief Executive for the employers – says we have been offered the same as that already accepted by others in the health sector. This isn’t true, it is thousands of dollars lower for each and every APEX member standing here today.’

Mr Smith continued that, ‘I believe this government stands for fairness for all, but they have allowed DHBs to develop a strategy of industrial apartheid. This agenda is causing harm to patients.  Our members have had to make the agonising decision to strike simply to catch up with colleagues doing the same work.  It’s time that the real decision makers came to the bargaining table to explain their discriminatory stance.’

APEX senior advocate David Munro observed that that there has been a ‘pay jolt’ in the health sector since the settlement of the NZNO collective agreement nearly two years ago.  But it appears that APEX members are being punished simply because of the timing of the expiry of their collective agreement.

‘Where the sector agreed that Nurses should enjoy the same terms and conditions from the same dates regardless of which union represents them, the same principal is not being applied to APEX laboratory workers.’ said Mr Munro.

Our members are very determined to force a fair deal from their employers; one that doesn’t see them disadvantaged against colleagues doing identical work with identical qualifications.  ‘That the employers are willing to suffer the costs of strike action rather than spend that money on a fair deal is unconscionable,’ said Mr Munro.  ‘They need to understand that this is a fight that our members won’t give up on.  They know that they are not being greedy, they are seeking no more nor less than other health sector workers have received from bargaining in recent months.

Contact: Stewart Smith



Mobile (021) 114 4305


Contact: David Munro

Senior Advocate


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 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.

Learn more about APEX Medical Laboratory Workers division.

Contact APEX