DHB Medical Laboratory Workers and NZ Blood Service employees who are members of APEX have voted to commence pro-longed National Strike Action commencing 10 February 2020 and running until 5 May 2020. The action varies from centre to centre and is designed to put pressure on the employers to come back to the bargaining table with a fair offer to settle their National MECA (multi-employer collective agreement).
APEX Laboratories National Advocate David Munro notes that the employer party has been missing in action for this crucial medical workforce since November last year.
‘The issues in this bargaining are not complex’, Mr Munro remarked. ‘Our members work alongside identically qualified colleagues covered by a different collective agreement who are currently paid salaries more than 7% higher than our members. There is no sense, logic or fairness to that situation’, Mr Munro continued, ‘it is simply a matter of the timing of bargaining, and the employers’ acknowledge that is the case.’
However, the employers have doggedly stuck to a position that would see this inequity locked in. The offer would see our members trapped on pay rates at least 3% behind their colleagues indefinitely. ‘There is only one word for that,’ said Mr Munro, ‘discrimination!’
‘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.’
The strikes run through to 5 May 2020 and involve a variety of partial strikes at all centres. These include refusal to undertake particular tests, refusal to staff phlebotomy runs, refusing to answer phones, and refusing to accept community generated lab tests. In addition, plans to Ballot for a ‘National Day of Action’ in March are also well advanced.
|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 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.