Union announces plans for job action against LifeLabs; first steps beginning this weekend
Hundreds of union members working for LifeLabs in B.C. will begin job action this weekend, their representation said Friday.
Seventy-two-hour strike notice was first given Wednesday by the B.C. Government Service Employees' Union on behalf of 1,550 workers. In an update outlining their plans, the union said Friday job action would begin at 7 p.m.
"By putting profits ahead of people, LifeLabs created a staffing crisis across their organization that was causing problems for their employees and their patients long before the pandemic," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president, in a news release.
"They’ve refused to work with our members to address the underlying issues at the bargaining table so, unfortunately, job action is the next step."
When the strike notice was first issued, Health Minister Adrian Dix said his ministry is preparing "to ensure that patients are protected" and is "very hopeful the collective bargaining process will lead to an agreement."
The union said earlier this week one of the main issues is wages.
"Our members at LifeLabs earn on average between 4.5 per cent to 13.5 per cent less than workers doing exactly the same jobs in hospital labs and we want to see that gap addressed," Smith told CTV News Vancouver.
The first step in the job action will include a rally on Saturday at the LifeLabs Burnaby Reference Lab. Right after, an over-time ban will be implemented, which means all workers will refuse extra hours offered to them.
Staff will also adhere to a "work-to-rule campaign," which means they'll only do their jobs exactly as they're outlined in the most recent collective agreement.
"Job action doesn't just mean strikes and picket lines," Smith said in Friday's update.
"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."
However, if a deal isn't reached by Nov. 1, workers will move to the next phase of their job-action plan, which will include picket lines at some locations, the union said.
"On behalf of our members and the patients they serve, I urge LifeLabs to make the most of this opportunity," Smith said.
Saturday's rally is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Michele Brunoro