WORKERS at 20 Dorevitch Pathology sites across Gippsland went on strike on Monday, after a long-running pay dispute resulted in industrial action as employees plead for a “fair bloody go”.
Collectors, laboratory assistants, cleaners, couriers, maintenance and clerical staff walked off the job for 24 hours, but the action was not expected to affect collection services in Sale and Maffra.
A rally was held in Traralgon, at Dorevitch Pathology in Kay St.
The strike comes after the Health Workers Union voted to take protected industrial action, which was approved by the Fair Work Commission.
A statement on the Health Workers Union website claims that Dorevitch workers are the lowest paid pathology staff in Victoria, “earning thousands of dollars less per annum than their counterparts employed by other pathology providers”.
According to the HWU, the last enterprise bargain agreement Dorevitch had in place with its workforce was negotiated in 2004 and expired in 2007.
The union claims Primary Health, Dorevitch’s owner, posted more than $1.2 billion in profits since the last agreement, with employee wages remaining stagnant for more than a decade.
In terms of negotiations, the HWU said Dorevitch’s starting point position was to “offer no pay increases, reduce workers’ sick leave entitlements and refusing to budge on its out of date non-flexible work arrangements”.
Union secretary Diana Asmar said relations reached tipping point when Dorevitch chief executive Neville Moller “insultingly” offered workers a free gingerbread cookie in lieu of a pay rise.
“After a year of negotiations in good faith by the union and a zero percent pay offer on the table, workers can’t be bought off with a gingerbread cookie,” she said.
“Wages have gone backwards in real terms.
“They’re making big company profits by suppressing employee wages.”
“Our members are overworked and underpaid ...enough is enough.”
A Dorevitch Pathology spokesperson said there was no disruption to services at hospitals and their laboratories, which continued to process tests and work with GPs to deliver results as normal, but some collection centres around the state were closed.
More than 500 pathology workers across Victoria were expected to go on strike.