DHB Medical Laboratory Workers and NZ Blood Service employees who are members of APEX, will strike on Friday 13th March in support of achieving a fair offer to settle their MECA (multi-employer collective agreement).
The action covers two of only three laboratories currently testing for Covid-19. The day of action is on top of ongoing partial strike action running through until May. Processing of Covid-19 samples will continue, but in the face of considerable disruption to the labs where testing takes place.
‘The employers have made no effort to reach a fair agreement.’ says senior APEX Advocate David Munro. The employers most recent offer discriminates against our members and would lock them into inferior salaries for the term of the collective agreement and beyond. Our Laboratory scientist members are university degree qualified and currently earn 12% less than a similarly qualified registered nurse and more than 7% less than identically qualified colleagues working alongside them on a different employment agreement.
‘These are scientists in laboratories that are responsible for testing for Covid19,’ David Munro pointed out today. ‘Yet the employers are unprepared to settle this dispute and so eliminate this disruption to their labs. It couldn’t be a worse time. Now is when we should all be pulling together to fight Coronavirus. Instead the employers prefer to fight their own staff.’
‘The solution is simple’, says Mr Munro, ‘the employers need to act on their own rhetoric and make an offer that ensures that colleagues doing identical work with identical qualifications and experience are paid the same.’ APEX estimates that the gap between the parties is less than $400,000 over a two -year Agreement. ‘It is time that the Director General of Health stepped in to settle this dispute at such a crucial time.’ Mr Munro concluded.
Contact: David Munro
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 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.