Trisha, who has dark hair up in a pony tail and wears glasses, smiles at the camera. Her photo is on a purple HSUWA branded background.

HSUWA Member Trisha is the friendly, smiling face who greets patients as they walk through the door of a small suburban pathology clinic south of Perth. Trisha is a very experienced and skilled Phlebotomist working with Australian Clinical Laboratories (Clinical Labs) in WA.

Clinical Labs, along with Western Diagnostic Pathology and Clinipath, make up the private pathology employers in WA.

Trisha has worked with Clinical Labs for nearly six years, almost half of her twelve-year career as a Phlebotomist. Phlebotomists (also called Specimen Collectors reflecting the ever-expanding nature of the role), safely collect samples from patients, often blood samples, and prepare them for testing and diagnosis.

Phlebotomists are at the front line of the health system, talking to patients, safely taking their samples and ensuring strict guidelines and procedures are followed, to ensure accurate testing.

Trisha initially received on the job training and then went to TAFE for her formal qualifications in Phlebotomy. Later, she had the opportunity to complete a Certificate IV in Lab Techniques at TAFE through her employer.  So, in addition to her years of experience, Trisha has a thorough knowledge of both collection and lab processes.

We asked Trisha what she liked best about her profession, and her responses focused on the connections formed with patients:

“I like the patients and you get a variety of people so you can have a lot of interesting conversations.”

“There’s a lot of lonely people out there and sometimes they come in and the Doctor and their little trip to the shop might be the only people they see for the week. The job is definitely also about human connection.”

“We establish that human contact, which is crucial to making the experience as painless, pleasant and professional as possible.”

Despite the importance of skilled Phlebotomists, they are some of the lowest paid workers in our healthcare system, particularly across the three private employers in WA. Patients often presume these hard working, professional staff are remunerated accordingly, however for many, higher pay is needed to stay in their roles.

Many private pathology employees are looking to other employers or industries for better pay and conditions that can support them with a living wage. Skilled health workers like Trisha have faced significant challenges in the face of soaring cost of living pressures and with a take home pay that doesn’t meet household costs. Their pay also fails to recognise the value they bring to their organisations and the local communities in which they work.

The private pathology companies have business models that suppress wages at all costs to maximise profits and accept a high turnover to sustain it. They don’t want their workforces unionised for this reason.

All of these employers are part of large national groups and most are owned by private equity. Over the last three years these companies have raked in huge record profits, bumped up from COVID-19 testing, especially during 2020-2022 with tests heavily subsided by taxpayers under the Morrison Government.

As more employees join their union, better and fairer outcomes for the workforce can be achieved by collective bargaining. This is the mechanism to use to ensure these employers recognise and value the contribution of their own staff to their record profits and any future success of their business.

HSUWA Members have commenced bargaining for a new collective Union Agreement to make improvements to the pay and conditions for all the health workers and support staff at Clinical Labs.

Trisha is one of the incredible Delegates who has stepped up to support her colleagues and spread the word of much needed change throughout the campaign.

“I really like my job and I want to continue to do it, so we need to be paid fairly.”

“Together we’re stronger. I can’t think of a single reason why you shouldn’t join your union and a hundred reasons that you should.”

“Union Members have previously put their lives on the line to secure the rights we have today… including annual leave loading, sick pay, workplace health and safety regulations… these are conditions that have been fought and won by unions.”

If you’re working at Clinical Labs or any pathology organisation in Western Australia, you’re encouraged to join the HSUWA to stand with your colleagues too.

As Trisha explained, “We have to stand together. It’s the only power we have as workers… the only power.”

Join now.

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