This morning Southern Community Laboratories (SCL) began suspending APEX members participating in partial strike action at its laboratories.

APEX union had given notice of partial strike action in these laboratories to withdraw from some non-urgent duties such as answering phones and performing certain tests.

“Yesterday we met in mediated bargaining with SCL and it is now clear to us that instead of thinking through and working out how to settle this collective bargaining the company has been preparing a strategy designed to intimidate laboratory professionals,” said APEX Laboratory National Advocate David Munro.


“SCL’s suspensions of union members in laboratories pose a grave risk to patient safety. Our laboratories are already perilously understaffed and under pressure. Suspending laboratory workers will increase the workload on those who remain, increase pressure in the laboratory, and stifle communication and co-operation in the laboratory,” said Mr Munro.


“We really do live in strange times. These weeks are crucial for our Covid-19 response, which is why we cancelled a full day strike at SCL last week. But the very people we need to keep New Zealanders safe this week are being suspended from work.”


“The inconvenient truth about this pandemic is our essential workers, our frontline health workers, including laboratory staff, are overworked, underpaid and always forgotten.”


“The employer probably thinks their suspensions this morning will intimidate the workforce. In fact, what it will do is compromise patient care and galvanise an already strong and united workforce to keep fighting for fair pay,” concluded Mr Munro.



Contact: David Munro

Laboratories National Advocate


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 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.

View media coverage of the Medical Laboratory Workers’ strike action.

Contact APEX