BCGEU workers at LifeLabs issue 72-hour strike notice

Click to play video: 'Negotiations between LifeLabs, employees’ union hit an impasse, strike notice issued'
Negotiations between LifeLabs, employees’ union hit an impasse, strike notice issued
After months of negotiations, bargaining and mediation, LifeLabs and the union representing its employees have failed to reach a deal, and a strike notice has been issued. As Grace Ke reports, wages remain the major point of contention – Oct 20, 2021

Members of the B.C. General Employees’ Union issued a 72-hour strike notice to LifeLabs on Tuesday night.

The union, which represents 1,550 LifeLabs workers, says the strike notice comes after several months of negotiations, 30 days at the bargaining table and eight days of mediation.

Click to play video: 'LifeLabs announces new COVID-19 antibody test for British Columbians'
LifeLabs announces new COVID-19 antibody test for British Columbians

Wages remain the main point of contention, union president Stephanie Smith says.

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“The bottom line is LifeLabs is another privately owned company trying to protect their profit margins at the expense of their workers, despite the fact that the pandemic has proven time and again that this approach literally puts lives at risk,” Smith said.

Read more: New LifeLabs antibody test announced for British Columbians

“Poor wages and working conditions have created a staffing crisis at LifeLabs, forcing them to shut down facilities on Vancouver Island. Members are fighting for a fair deal that will stabilize staffing and ensure better service for patients.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, LifeLabs said it has “delivered multiple, competitive offers to the BCGEU and reached agreement on several specific proposals” prior to the current bargaining impasse.

Job action could begin as early as Friday at 7 p.m.

LifeLabs says essential service agreements ensure that most locations will remain open and labs will function as usual if there is job action, but some locations will be closed on a rotating basis starting on Monday.

Patients who need to have appointments rescheduled will be contacted by LifeLabs.

It is unclear what impact job action may have on COVID-19 testing in the province. The laboratory testing company conducts COVID-19 tests in B.C. and Ontario.

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LifeLabs workers voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action in July and have been working without a contract since April 1, the union said.


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