Dorevitch action escalates

Dorevitch workers will continue to strike until Thursday morning, after 66 workers were locked out of their workplace on Monday. The industrial action is affecting services at Dorevitch Pathology at Central Gippsland Health, Sale.

Dorevitch workers will continue to strike until Thursday morning, after 66 workers were locked out of their workplace on Monday. The industrial action is affecting services at Dorevitch Pathology at Central Gippsland Health, Sale.

INDUSTRIAL action involving Gippsland pathology workers escalated on Tuesday, after 66 Dorevitch Pathology workers were “indefinitely” locked out of their workplaces in what unions claim was the company retaliating against them for striking on Monday.

INDUSTRIAL action involving Gippsland pathology workers escalated on Tuesday, after 66 Dorevitch Pathology workers were “indefinitely” locked out of their workplaces in what unions claim was the company retaliating against them for striking on Monday.

In response, the Health Workers Union extended industrial action for an additional 48 hours, in a move which affected 19 Gippsland collection services.

Collection services were disrupted until yesterday morning, including sites in Sale and Maffra, with just one remaining open in Bairnsdale.

A spokesperson for the union alleged the 66 employees locked out were targeted because they attended the Fair Work Commission approved rally in Traralgon on Monday.

Health Workers Union secretary Diana Asmar said it was Dorevitch management’s legal right to lock out workers, falling under employer action response, but it was also union members’ legal right to walk off the job in response, falling under employee action response.

“Over 500 members are walking off the job today, and they will do the same again tomorrow — and this is affecting Gippsland region pathology services,” Ms Asmar said on Tuesday, in reference to regional Dorevitch workers.

“What it tells you is that [Dorevitch] can definitely not function without these workers.”

Ms Asmar said Dorevitch had begun to advertise on SEEK for casual workers to fill the gaps left by striking and locked-out workers.

Ms Asmar said the 66 workers were mainly  middle aged women and struggling single mums.

“We’ve set up a strike fund to help these brave workers feed their kids,” she said.

“They can get better pay working stacking shelves at the local supermarket.

“They respect their patients, and they’ve earned the Gippsland community’s respect.

“Over 70 per cent of medical diagnoses — whether it’s diabetes or cancer — rely on pathology services. 

“They deserve more than $20 an hour.

“If you touch one, you touch all,” she said of those participating in the strike.

Workers striking at Kay St gardens in Traralgon on Wednesday told the Latrobe Valley Express they had been locked out of their workplaces indefinitely.

Workers at 20 Dorevitch Pathology sites across Gippsland went on strike on Monday, after a long-running pay dispute.

Collectors, laboratory assistants, cleaners, couriers, maintenance and clerical staff had intended to walk off the job for 24 hours.

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”.

The last enterprise bargain agreement Dorevitch had in place with its workforce was negotiated in 2004, and expired in 2007.

According to the union, employee wages have remained stagnant for more than a decade, as Dorevitch’s owner, Primary Health, posted more than $1.2 billion in profit.

In terms of negotiations, the Health Workers Union alleges Dorevitch’s starting point was to “offer no pay increases, reduce workers’ sick leave and refusing to budge on its out of date non-flexible work arrangements”.

Dorevitch Pathology was contacted for comment, but referred the Gippsland Times to an out-of-date statement that referred only to the initial 24 hours of industrial action.

A spokesperson for Central Gippsland Health said Dorevitch’s service to the hospital was uninterrupted by the industrial action, but could not detail alternative measures in place, before the Gippsland Times’ deadline.

Gippsland Senior
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