FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2021
LifeLabs workers issue 72-hour strike notice
BURNABY, B.C. (Coast Salish Territories) – Members of the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) have issued 72-hour strike notice to LifeLabs as of 7:00 p.m., October 19, 2021. This action follows several months of negotiations, 30 days at the bargaining table and eight days of mediation. The main outstanding issue is fair and reasonable wage increases.
“BCGEU members working for LifeLabs are among the “healthcare heroes” that have pushed themselves to the limit and beyond throughout the pandemic,” said BCGEU president, Stephanie Smith. “Instead of coming to the table willing to recognize the hard work and sacrifices of their employees by addressing long-standing issues with low wages and under-staffing, LifeLabs came to the table demanding concessions.”
LifeLabs’ initial proposals tabled at the beginning of bargaining in April 2021 sought to take away sick benefits and vacation days. While those concessions are no longer on the table, LifeLabs continues to resist BCGEU members’ attempts to secure wages that would keep up with rising inflation and bring them closer to the public sector industry standard for their field.
“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,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “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.”
The earliest that job action could commence is October 22, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Essential service agreements will ensure that some locations remain open during job action. LifeLabs patients will be able to check which locations are on strike at lifelabs.bcgeu.ca.
“BCGEU members at LifeLabs had hoped to avoid a strike,” said Smith. “They want a fair contract so they can get back to work taking care of patients. We are willing to use every minute of the next 72 hours to get a deal done at the bargaining table if LifeLabs is willing to get serious about giving members the deal they deserve.”
In July, LifeLabs workers voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action and have been working without a contract since April 1, 2021.
The BCGEU represents about 1,550 workers at LifeLabs throughout the province.
For more information contact: BCGEU Communications [email protected].
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