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Job action begins Monday at a chain of private medical diagnostic labs across the province, as the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union presses for wage gains for 700 members working for Lifelabs.

The province has three private companies offering medical diagnostics such as X-rays and blood tests. The job action – rotating strikes at 40 clinics – begins just as Lifelabs has signed a deal to buy a rival company, BC Biomedical Laboratories. The labour disruption will affect services at Lifelab's patient service centres in Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria and other communities. In a statement, the union said mediation failed on the weekend and the company is pushing for concessions from its workers. The company says it will close its offices where there is job action, but expects all offices to be open for regular hours by Thursday.

The union's contract with Lifelabs expired at the end of 2011. The BCGEU served strike notice last week, but the two sides met with a mediator provided by the Labour Relations Board on the weekend. On Sunday, the union declared those efforts a failure and announced it is launching the first round of job action on a staggered basis. Most of the 40 labs will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

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About the Author
B.C. politics reporter

Based in the press gallery of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Justine has followed the ups and downs of B.C. premiers since 1988. She has also worked as a business reporter and on Parliament Hill covering national politics. More

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