Medical Laboratory Workers employed by Southern Community Laboratories Ltd who are members of APEX have voted to strike for 24 hours on Monday 17th August 2020.  The strike is 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.


“The current offer from the employer goes nowhere near to matching the salaries of colleagues employed in the DHB run Laboratories” said APEX Senior Advocate David Munro today.


This business runs on taxpayer’s money and the profits go offshore to Australia where they help prop up ailing private hospitals which are also being bailed out by the Australian Federal Government.  Meanwhile, here in New Zealand this pathology business that is responsible for 40% of Covid-19 testing is not prepared to fairly pay staff in their SCL Laboratories.


‘Under their proposed pay offer a fully qualified scientist would be paid 4% behind a colleague in a DHB lab doing the same work, and a qualified technician 6% behind.’ Mr Munro continued.


“This is the workforce that is keeping New Zealand safe in the current Covid-19 crisis.” Mr Munro continued.  ‘It is intolerable that a profitable offshore company is not prepared to pay its New Zealand staff the same rates as DHBs.’


APEX members are currently being balloted for ongoing further strike action following the one-day stoppage on 17th August.


Contact: David Munro

Senior Advocate


Mobile (027) 276 9999

Phone (09) 526 0280

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