<' />

Patients at Auckland's major hospitals can expect delays next week as medical laboratory workers stage resume strike action over pay and conditions.

New Zealand Medical Laboratory Workers' Union (NZMLWU) members from Auckland and Greenlane Hospitals will strike all day on Monday and Tuesday and members from Middlemore Hospital and the Manukau Super Clinic on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Union secretary-treasurer Bryan Raill said Auckland District Health Board had not been willing to settle contracts in a fair and meaningful way.

Mr Raill compared the salaries of nurses and laboratory workers.

Nurses studied for three years, and started on a salary of around $44,000 which increased to $60,000 after four years while lab workers studied for four years, started on $42,000 which increased to about $51,000 after four years.

Mr Raill said the average age of medical laboratory scientists was 52 and rising and those who left or retired were not being replaced.

In the South Island 70 per cent of laboratory workers had a settled their contracts with Medlab South and Southern Community Laboratories, but the remaining 30 per cent, who worked for DHBs, had not settled.

The Auckland workers, about 350 laboratory scientists, technicians and phlebotomists, would be available for life and limb saving services during the strikes, he said.

Auckland District Health Boards regional spokeswoman Ngaire Buchanan warned there could be long delays as a result of the strikes which would add to stresses experienced by patients and their families.

Non-unionised laboratory staff members would continue to work as normal and life-preserving services contingency plans had been agreed with the union.

Last month, medical laboratory workers at three Auckland district health boards walked off the job for 24 hours.

- NZPA