Staff at LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services issued further strike notice today, saying they will continue to shut down select patient service centres around the province.
About 40 sites were closed Monday and today with about 150 workers on picket lines because of failed contract negotiations with their employer.
That level of job action will be scaled back Wednesday, said representatives from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union representing 706 LifeLabs workers.
Staff will shut down six patient service centres on Wednesday, including five in Vancouver and one in Duncan.
“We’re trying to spread it around a bit, so there are still sites open,” said Darryl Walker, president of BCGEU. “This isn’t about creating a bad relationship (with the employer or the public), it’s about getting some sort of an agreement.”
Union members say they are prepared to continue with the rotating strike, closing a new set of locations every few days. The job action is sure to delay test results and create longer lineups at patient service centres, says Sue Paish, LifeLabs CEO.
Eleven labs in Greater Victoria were shut on Monday and today, but those, along with the 31 others, will be open again Wednesday.
BCGEU said the company is offering an inadequate four-per-cent pay increase over three years, while asking for considerable concessions.
Paish rejected that view, saying the only remaining concession proposal was one that would have all employees pay their own long-term disability premiums.
She said the company’s wage offer was “competitive” with other health-sector contracts and more reasonable than the union’s request for a nine-per-cent increase over three years.
“This strike will be incredibly disruptive for patients,” she said. “There will be, almost unquestionably, some delay in getting medical results.”
Workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2011, and Walker said the company’s offer did not include a retroactive pay raise for 2012.
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