BCGEU workers at LifeLabs in B.C. to begin job action Friday night

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

B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) members working at LifeLabs across B.C. will begin job action at 7 p.m. Friday after several months of negotiations failed to secure a new collective agreement, the union said.

Members issued a 72-hour strike notice on Wednesday.

The union represents 1,550 LifeLabs workers across the province.

The first phase of job action will be a rally on Saturday, Oct. 23, at the LifeLabs Burnaby Reference Lab followed by immediate implementation of an overtime ban and a work-to-rule campaign. Workers will refuse voluntary overtime hours offered by the employer, and will perform their jobs exactly as “outlined in their job description” the union said in a statement.

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Negotiations between LifeLabs, employees’ union hit an impasse, strike notice issued

If a new deal is not secured by Nov. 1, workers are prepared to escalate to the next phase, which would include picket lines at specific lab locations, the union said in a statement.

“Job action doesn’t just mean strikes and picket lines,” BCGEU president, Stephanie Smith, stated. “By taking a strategic approach like escalating tactics, our members are giving LifeLabs the opportunity to avoid more serious service disruptions by coming forward with an offer that gives these healthcare professionals the wages and working conditions they deserve.

“On behalf of our members and the patients they serve, I urge LifeLabs to make the most of this opportunity.”

The BCGEU members include medical laboratory technologists, laboratory technical assistants, client information specialists, couriers and clinical technical assistants.

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.

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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.

–With files from Jon Azpiri

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