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Tentative deal reached in LifeLabs dispute

LifeLabs unionized staff and medical laboratory workers strike outside the LifeLabs 750 West Broadway location in Vancouver on Jan. 21, 2013. Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Job action at B.C. largest private medical lab operation is over after the company sweetened the pot with a bit more cash and the union representing its 700 unionized workers there accepted the proposed new terms.

Members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union had been staging rotating strikes against LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services, but the two sides agreed this week to go back to the bargaining table.

The tentative deal provides the same wage increase of 4 per cent over three years that union negotiators previously rejected.

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However, the deal now contains a one-time, lump sum payment equal to a 2-per-cent pay hike. The money will be paid out, upon ratification. This signing bonus will not be rolled into the overall wage rate.

In a brief statement Wednesday, the BCGEU added that the current long-term disability payment system will remain unchanged. LifeLabs' last offer before rotating strikes began last week had contained a revised LTD plan.

The union's first ever job action at LifeLabs closed about half of the company's 80 patient service labs across the province for one or two days.

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