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LifeLabs workers strike for better pay, sick leave in Simcoe County


Around 120 LifeLabs workers from across Simcoe County are taking strike action after negotiations for a new contract broke down this week.

Both parties had been at the bargaining table for over a year but were unable to reach an agreement before the 12:01 a.m. deadline on Thursday.

"We are out because we need to make sure that we are equal," said Renee Aiken Kearsley, OPSEU/SEFPO Local 389 President. "All we're asking Charles Brown (LifeLabs CEO), is to be equal with the non-unionized employees."

Unionized LifeLabs workers in Simcoe County claim they are being underpaid in comparison to workers at other locations across the province, making as much as $5.50 less per hour to start.(opens in a new tab)

"The employer is making a clear choice to prioritize profits over workers and patient care," Aiken Kearsley said.

CTV News reached out to LifeLabs for an interview but was provided a statement instead.

"LifeLabs is committed to open, constructive, and respectful negotiations with OPSEU Local 389 to reach a fair and mutually beneficial agreement," it read. "We respect the negotiation process and the rights of our employees to pursue their interests. We remain open to further discussions and will continue to work diligently with OPSEU to find a resolution that is fair and aligned with the values of our organization."

A dozen locations in Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach are impacted by the strike.

The employer said some are closed due to job action, but that "most LifeLabs Patient Service Centres" would remain open.

According to the union, "scab workers" have been brought in to take up the duties of striking members.

"I believe we are very close to getting a deal," said Greg Mcveigh, a negotiator for the union. "Unfortunately, the employer is still trying to get concessions out of our members."

Mcveigh said LifeLabs wants to scale back sick leave for unionized members in particular.

"We have high incidents of cancer in this workplace, 10 per cent of our members have cancer," Mcveigh added. "This industry itself has high cancer because of the chemicals and swabs, things like that that they use. "It's pretty tough to go to workers and ask them to give a concession on your sick plan when 10 per cent of the work force has cancer."

Workers will remain on the picket lines daily until a tentative deal can be reached. Top Stories

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