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LifeLabs workers hold rally demanding better wages as labour negotiations resume

LifeLabs employees want better wages and pensions

As some 1,550 B.C. General Employees Union employees working at LifeLabs across the province commenced labour action, LifeLabs says they are prepared to resume negotiations.

Union members held a rally outside LifeLabs’ administrative offices in Burnaby on Saturday (Oct. 23) demanding better wages and pensions.

“We’ve seen tremendous staffing shortages, we’ve seen people volunteer to come in work overtime to meet the needs that are there. We have tremendous levels of burnout and we have severe compensation problems to the point where there are staffing shortages that put increased burden and stress on all these workers,” Paul Finch, treasurer of BCGEU said.

RELATED: BCGEU says fair wages are on the line as LifeLabs workers issue 72-hour strike notice

In a statement released amid the labour action, LifeLabs said that it will resume negotiations with BCGEU Saturday evening, averting any notice of closure of patient service centres unless the parties reach an impasse in negotiations. LifeLabs said they are hopeful they can avoid closures.

But Finch said some serious sticking points still need to be ironed out.

“Two of the biggest sticking points here are parity with workers in facilities doing the same or similar work, the second is a more secure form of pension plan, one that doesn’t cost the employer an extra penny, but ideologically they’re opposing. We don’t understand why they’re opposing it.”

Mandy de Fields is a member bargaining committee for LifeLabs employees. She said that workers are facing increased burnout amid the pandemic, combined with worker retention issues that have increased workloads dramatically.

“Our workers have estimated the pandemic has increased the time it takes to do their job by threefold and they have less staff to deal with it because of the retention problems.”

All LifeLabs locations will be open this weekend and for the start of the week as the parties resume negotiations.


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