Efforts to Avert Strike Fail - Gap Between Parties Remains too Big
Monday 27 November, 2006
Efforts to avert the laboratory workers strike have failed with a mediator adjourning talks this afternoon between the laboratory workers’ union and DHBs due to the significant gap between parties.
Laboratory workers at 15 District Health Boards, 3 private employers and the New Zealand Blood Service plan to stop work for 7 days from 0800 Wednesday 29 November until 0800 Wednesday 6 December.
Gordon Davies, CEO of Canterbury District Health Board and Spokesperson for the DHBs, says he’s deeply frustrated that the union has chosen to proceed with the strike, knowing that DHBs simply cannot meet their unrealistic claim.
“The union is insisting on a 13% increase on the entry level rates for scientists, and increases in other rates of over 20% for other groups.
“Our best available offer, which would deliver an average of over 5.5% over two years, will allow us to bring all rates around the country into line and make the transition to the new levels affordable for DHBs.
“The reality is that the gap between what the union is asking for and what we can offer is simply too big – and no strike will change that.”
Mr Davies says that DHBS are prepared to look at other salary structures and have offered to use the available money in different ways, but the Lab Workers have not offered any other options that are within the funding envelope nor have they identified any savings from the existing contract that could be used to top up the offer.
“This is a matter of fairness – DHBs cannot spend money they don’t have or offer rates that will distort relativities with other comparable groups.”
Mr Davies says that once again the country’s health system was being held to ransom by unreasonable union demands.
“Once again we’re seeing patients being used for industrial leverage to support unsustainable pay claims.
“The union also seems to be forgetting that after the strike, we still need to sit down to talk and find a settlement,” says Mr Davies.
Mr Davies says that in the meantime DHBs contingency plans were well advanced in preparation for the strike that will also affect some private hospitals and providers as well. Services that would be affected include the provision of blood, all testing of samples such as blood, tissues and swabs for diagnosis in over 70% of all hospital admissions.