Medical lab workers of New Zealand will be on strike for a total of three days, in the month of April.
The workers represented by the Medical Laboratory Workers Union which comprise 1200 workers, will be taking on their employers; the 15 district health boards (DHB) of the country, over disputes of pay and working conditions.
According to the union's spokesperson Bryan Raill, the DHBs do not value the members and have so far been unwilling to improve their pay offer.
In response, the DHBs say the union wants what amounts to a 20 percent pay increase and state that the current pay and conditions are sufficient as this is reflected in the low turnover of staff.
In the meantime, there are last-minute talks between the DHBs and the Medical Laboratory Workers Union representatives being held in Auckland today to avert the 48-hour strike.
This will mean blood transfusions, blood testing and tissue sampling services being unavailable for all but life-threatening conditions. In addition, many elective surgeries will be cancelled and thousands of hospital patients will face disruption to their treatment from tomorrow.
Medical Laboratory Workers Union national president Stewart Smith was quoted that he doubted today's negotiations would avoid the planned industrial action, yet he hoped that some issues would be resolved.
Aside from the pay dispute, the union and DHBs were also at loggerheads on issues such as contracted services being outside the collective agreement and hours of work.
Says Smith: "We're hopeful that one of those issues might be resolved at least, but overall I'm not hopeful that they'll come up with anything that will break the strike."
Members of the union have also given notice to strike again on April 24, for 24 hours.