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 The NZMLWU office will reduce to skeleton staff from 24 December until 18 January. A staff member will be at the office between 0900 and 1500 on non-stat days and the answerphone will be on outside those hours. As always, if there is an urgent matter you require assistance with you can call the 24 hour line on 0800 803 993. Thank you for your engagement and support throughout the course of this year. We have exciting things planned for 2016 and look forward to touching base at the start of next year. We wish you all a safe and happy Christmas holiday and New Year!


TLab SECA has ratified and is now in term for 2 years.

  • Welcome to Wellington SCL – bargaining has initiated and the group have had their first bargaining meeting. Members are currently all on IEAs based on either the current National DHB MECA or the expired Aotea Pathology collective agreement.
  • Final SCL collective agreement document has been signed.  Members have received a pay rise and back pay.


Under the Holidays Act 2002 certain holidays are ‘Mondayised’ depending on when they fall and when you work. This year, Boxing Day falls on a Saturday as does the 2nd of January 2016 so these days will be ‘Mondayised’. This means, that if you would not otherwise work on that Saturday the public holiday is treated as falling on the following Monday. If Saturday is your ordinary working day, you will receive time and a half and a day in lieu if you work it or a paid day off if you do not work it. If Saturday is not your ordinary working day but Monday is, then you will receive time and a half and a day in lieu if you work the Monday or a paid day off if you do not work it.

You cannot receive entitlements for both the Saturday and Monday – i.e. you can not double dip! This ‘Mondayisation’ business is not new law and your employers are (or should be) aware of what your entitlements are regarding this. If you have any queries related to ‘Mondayisation’ or public holidays generally then send us an email at support@nzmlwu.org.nz – we will endeavour to answer any questions!


This is a reminder that NZMLWU delegates training will take place next year on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of August at the Novotel Auckland Airport. Attendees will include NZMLWU delegates (both new and old!) and also APEX (Association of Professionals and Executive Employees) delegates. This is a not to be missed opportunity, so if you are thinking about becoming a delegate then now would be a good time to contact support@nzmlwu.org.nz to find out further information and to register your interest. Also, for those of you who are already delegates please communicate your attendance as soon as possible so that numbers can be confirmed and flights and accommodation can be arranged. Please keep an eye out for further information about the training and if you have any queries do not hesitate to ask!


This year’s influenza season, officially declared over in September, was roughly on par with that in 2012. Despite this winter being far from the pandemic we experienced in 2009 its impact was worse than both the 2013 and 2014 flu seasons. The Canterbury region was the worst hit this year reaching epidemic levels of people needing medical consultation (especially during the month of August) with up to 400 cases per 100,000.

The Ministry of Health recently released the “2015 Workforce Influenza Immunisation Coverage Rates by District Health Board” findings. The document is available on the MOH website if you wish to take a closer look at the breakdown by DHBs and by broad occupational group. The total coverage rates increased from 2014 to 2015 with 61% of health care workers vaccinated across the DHBs in 2014 and 66% of health care workers vaccinated in 2015. Total coverage rates have steadily increased since coverage was first measured in 2010. The highest increase occurred between 2012 and 2013 in which total coverage rates rose from 48% to 58%. The second highest increase occurred between 2014 and 2015. All occupational groups achieved an increase in vaccination rates. Total ‘Allied staff’ (which includes but is not exclusive to us, physiotherapists, dieticians, social workers and pharmacists) coverage rates increase from 57% in 2014 to 65% in 2015.

Allied staff coverage rates that either met or exceeded the total average rates for ‘all DHBs’ in that occupational group include: Auckland DHB, Bay of Plenty DHB, Canterbury DHB, Capital and Coast DHB, Counties Manukau DHB, Hawkes Bay DHB, Northland DHB, Southern DHB, Tairawhiti DHB, Taranaki DHB and Waikato DHB.

NZMLWU will be carrying out further analysis of the MOH coverage rates findings and in particular will be looking at the ‘why’ behind the various occupational groups and the DHBs that did not achieve an increase in coverage rates this year. So more to come on this!


Construction has begun on the new National Biocontainment Laboratory in Upper Hutt. This new lab is costing around $90 million dollars and is replacing the current high security laboratory.

In determining the ‘user requirements’ for the lab (i.e. the key instructions to the designers about what is needed and how it should perform) a wide range of stakeholders, including laboratory and other staff and Government departments such as the Ministry of Health and Treasury were consulted. International research took place which included visits to overseas labs and laboratory workload associated with major disease was analysed.

A number of key user needs were established:

  • an ability to meet the needs of a biosecurity emergency such as a foot and mouth disease outbreak
  • a high level of earthquake protection
  • meeting internationally accepted standards for containment and safety
  • being able to deal with samples suspected to contain very high-risk pathogens
  • having capacity to use modern, proven diagnostic methods and adapt as new testing methods become available

The Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy has stated that “while these current labs have a good service record, they are now reaching the end of their design life… the new laboratory will be high security and state of the art. It will continue the critical work of responding to disease outbreaks, protecting public health and providing international trade assurances about New Zealand’s animal disease status.”  The laboratory and skilled personal have an essential job of helping to manage serious outbreaks of diseases.

Design features of the new lab include:

  • improved seismic protection – the lab will be able to withstand a “one in 2500 year” earthquake;
  • negative pressure and air filtration systems to ensure no contaminated air can escape the laboratory;
  • decontamination of all liquid effluent and other materials leaving the lab;
  • exit showers for staff;
  • increased security;
  • the integration of high and medium containment areas to improve capacity.


The new laboratory will have a floor area of more than 3,400 square metres. Construction will require 440 tonnes of structural steel and 680 cubic metres of concrete. Complex biocontainment requirements mean that 83 kilometres of electrical and data cabling will be needThe design and pre-construction work for the lab was finalised last year. If all goes to plan the lab construction will be complete by 2019.


The alliance or relationship between HBDHB and SCL is a unique one. Ordinarily, the DHB does not work closely with the lab. However, SCL and HBDHB have been working together since 2007, initially with the community work divided up by GP practice, and more recently at least 50% of the CBC’s and HBA1c’s, and all of the community antenatal CBC and group and screens.  The antenatal work is received by SCL and following this is then split into what is done by them (infectious serology) and the remainder sent to the hospital lab workers.  The phlebotomy teams have also joined forces to improve the CPD opportunities available to them, with evening meetings being hosted turn-about which have had a lot of positive feedback.


Most of our NZMLWU collectives provide for a clause similar to the following: “Rosters will be notified not less than 28 days prior to the commencement of the roster”. This is the roster notification clause.

The reasoning behind the clause is to enable employees to plan their lives outside of work.  To be able to plan your life you need some surety about when you will be working some time in advance, to enable you to also timetable dinner engagements, childcare responsibilities or whatever else you wish to do or need to do in your life! A couple of consequences arise:

Generally speaking once notified, a roster cannot be changed without your agreement or at least consultation.  So if you have your roster notified in some electronic form, print a copy off at 28 day intervals to ensure that subsequent changes can be identified and implemented only by agreement with you.

Some collectives allow for changes to rosters outside this provision in exceptional circumstances.  These types of situations are defined as for example civil emergencies and the like, in other words they are not defined as administrative errors by management!

Rosters must be notified to you.  Putting them in an internal mailbox when you are on annual leave does not constitute notification.  However note that it is important you take some responsibility to ensure you do get your roster, so if away for an extended time, ensure your manager does know where to send your roster in time for you to get it.




We are excited to introduce Luke Coxon as the newest member of the team. Luke has more than 15 years’ experience as a union advocate. He started working as a delegate in the hotel sector and then worked as an advocate for three different unions representing employees in a number of different sectors: paramedics, finance, oil refining, retail, food transport and logistics. Luke specialised in Greenfield agreements working towards establishing unions and membership on sites and companies where no union previously existed. He also has experience in the international trade union movement, working with the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) and as a consultant for the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). He has a Master’s degree in Development Studies from Auckland University. Luke returned earlier this year from volunteering with humanitarian organisations in the Philippines.

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