VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 21, 2013) - LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services ('LifeLabs') announced today it is providing patient access and services at 40 (of a total of 80) of its community-based patient service centre locations in B.C. despite the disruptive 48-hour rotating strikes announced by the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (the BCGEU).
In addition to the 40 patient service centres that will remain open during the union's strike, LifeLabs will have its lab testing facilities in Burnaby and Victoria in full service and they will be reporting results without disruption this week. In addition, our outreach services to residential homes and seniors care facilities in B.C. will continue as usual.
For a list of our patient service centre locations that are open on January 21st and 22nd, please refer to our webpage at http://www.lifelabs.com/Lifelabs_BC/ or call 1-800-431-7206.
"We are committed to patient care in B.C. and providing high-quality diagnostic testing services for patients and physicians in the province," said Sue Paish, President and CEO of LifeLabs. "We remain positive and are prepared to return to the bargaining table with the BCGEU to conclude a fair collective agreement for employees. We hope the union leadership will put patients and employees first, and get back to the bargaining table. We believe it is in the best interests of all parties to do so."
On January 17, 2013, the BCGEU served 72-hour strike notice advising LifeLabs that the union would be starting a rotating strike on the morning of January 21st. LifeLabs asked the BCGEU to come to the bargaining table over the weekend, and both parties met with a mediator on Saturday January 19th. After receiving an offer from LifeLabs, the BCGEU caucused briefly and then walked out of mediation without any further discussion. Despite an invitation from LifeLabs to meet again on Sunday January 20th, the union chose not to respond, and announced strike action would begin today.
The offer presented by LifeLabs to the BCGEU on January 19th included the following wage offer:
- a two percent wage increase effective January 1, 2013, plus,
- a further one percent wage increase effective July 1, 2013, plus,
- a further one percent wage increase effective January 1, 2014.
In addition to the above wage offer, LifeLabs withdrew several proposals with regards to vacation, special leave, and benefit cost sharing. LifeLabs retained its proposal regarding Long-Term Disability (LTD) that would have employees pay the LTD premium and enjoy tax-free benefits should they need them. Today, over half of LifeLabs employees in the bargaining unit voluntarily pay 100 percent of the LTD premium because of the non-taxable benefit.
LifeLabs believes the offer is competitive in the marketplace. For example, the BCGEU recently settled their Community Health Agreement covering 14,000 health sector workers with a three percent wage increase over two years following several months of rotating strikes. The Hospital Employees' Union also settled their collective agreement covering 50,000 health sector workers at a 3 percent wage increase over two years. In addition, many employees in the health care sector received no wage increases in 2010 and 2011while LifeLabs paid a 2% wage increase for technologists (1.5% for all other classifications) in 2010 and 1% in 2011.
The rotating strike action by the BCGEU against LifeLabs on January 21st and 22nd affects 40 patient service centre locations in B.C. All 40 locations will be closed as employees will be on strike. In addition, the BCGEU has provided notice that it will be striking six other LifeLabs patient service centres on January 23 and 24. LifeLabs will be proving further updates and postings to its website throughout the week. The BCGEU represents 709 LifeLabs employees across the province.
LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services (LifeLabs) provides laboratory testing services, which help physicians and other healthcare professionals diagnose, treat, monitor and prevent disease in patients. LifeLabs employs more than 3,000 professionally trained staff who delivers more than 50 million laboratory tests annually to over 10 million patients and nearly 20,000 physician customers. LifeLabs has operated in Canada for nearly 50 years. Today it is owned by Borealis, a global leader in infrastructure investing, with assets in energy, transportation and infrastructure buildings, including long-term care facilities and hospitals, pipelines and telecommunications. For information, visit www.lifelabs.com.