The dispute between Dorevitch Pathology and its staff has worsened, with the employer adding more names to its lockout list and extending the lockout indefinitely.
The pathology service, which is owned by health giant Primary Healthcare, has also begun to advertise extensively for new staff in a move seen to be ramping up pressure on striking collectors.
Dorevitch Pathology staff and their union have been negotiating with their employer for a pay rise for 12 months, which the employer has refused to countenance. The union says Dorevitch employees have had no pay rise since 2007.
The Health Workers Union has called for patients of Dorevitch Pathology to show their solidarity with the locked out workers by taking their pathology slips to rival services.
“The community needs to know that they can get behind and support these people by taking their Dorevitch slip to either Melbourne Pathology or Clinical Labs, and boycott Dorevitch Pathology until they give their staff the respect they deserve and a wage rise,” said HWU assistant secretary David Eden.
The HWU says Dorevitch employees are the lowest-paid pathology workers in Australia, earning just over $21 per hour. This is despite requiring nursing qualifications or a Certificate III in pathology collection.
A staff member at a McDonald’s restaurant earns $26 per hour in comparison.
A Dorevitch media spokesperson directed The Courier to its media release when questioned about the dispute. The statement said:
“Dorevitch Pathology is anticipating minimal disruption to services due to the one day industrial action occurring today.
There will be no impact to the services we provide public and private hospitals, and our laboratories will continue to process tests and work with GPs to deliver results as per normal.
“A small number of collection centres may be closed today. We are asking patients to access our website for details on any closures and information on the nearest alternative collection centre.
“Dorevitch remains committed to its GPs, patients and staff as we work through this matter. A number of contingencies have been implemented to limit the impact to patients and GPs.”
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said the ACTU stood with the 500 workers.
“The workers took legal protected industrial action,” said Ms McManus in a statement.
“Dorevitch responded by locking out 76 workers for daring to ask for a pay rise. These workers are amongst the lowest paid pathology workers in Australia and deserve a raise. Despite waiting a decade and bargaining for over a year, Dorevitch Pathology has offered a zero dollar increase.
“Corporate greed knows no bounds; Dorevitch’s owner, Primary Health, posted an estimated $1.2 billion in profits since the last pay deal. Meanwhile these worker’s wages have gone backwards in real terms. The outrageous zero offer points to a business model that relies on ripping off workers to increase profits.
“The rules that are meant to protect us are broken. These workers deserve much better. The rules need to change.”