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Medical lab workers strike about more than pay

15 November 2006

Medical lab workers strike about more than pay

While expressing support for medical lab and service workers attempts to gain a pay rise that reflects their essential skills and qualifications, Green Party MP Metiria Turei says that the week-long strike set to commence on November 29 is about other issues as well.

"The 1200 lab scientists involved have crucial skills, and they hold qualifications that take years to achieve. Yet the DHBs have left them at the mercy of mergers and contracting out processes that have caused redundancies and attrition among highly experienced staff.

"The entire community suffers when short term cost saving measures in the health sector are allowed to take precedence over stability of employment, due recognition of skills, and proper pay rates," Mrs. Turei says.

An estimated 1,200 scientists at 16 district health boards, community labs and six blood service centres are set to join the week long strike. The workers involved carry out tests within hospitals and community laboratories that are crucial to the correct diagnosis of diseases such as leukaemia and diabetes.

"The most important element in ensuring job stability and pay parity for these highly skilled workers is their ability to join a multi-employer contract, but this is something the employers have so far steadfastly refused to concede.

"Multi-employer contracts are the key to industrial harmony in this sector, and the public will be looking to the DHBs to show a willingness to shift on that point, " Mrs Turei says.

"The fact that a week-long strike has been notified by the laboratory workers indicates the depth of the current crisis in this sector," Green Party Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.


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