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South Island breast cancer screening mammographers to strike over low pay

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Infratil, which owns the Pacific Radiology Group (PRG), has just announced an increase of profits in six months from 27.8 million to 1.08 billion. A massive 3784% increase. Meanwhile, mammographers who work performing diagnostic mammograms and state funded breast cancer screening are paid up to 14% less than their counterparts employed in the District Health Boards for performing the exact same job

APEX, the union representing mammographers has been bargaining with PRG for more than five months and despite the glaring pay gap, they have refused to make a pay offer.

Meanwhile the Breast Cancer Foundation has raised serious concerns about the backlog in breast cancer screening. They estimate that Covid 19 has set screening back ten years, and that 133 women could die from breast cancer unless the government takes urgent action. The strike and the inevitability of further strikes in the new year, will further delay screening.

APEX Senior Advocate, Luke Coxon said:

Mammographers deeply care about the women they screen and detecting cancer before it can kill; they have not taken this decision to strike lightly.

There is currently a nation-wide shortage of mammographers and together with the impact of the pandemic New Zealand’s screening programme is lagging far behind where it should be. The breast cancer foundation has estimated that 133 women could die as a result.

For Infratil- PRG to announce such an obscene profit, but refuse to offer a pay increase, is unconscionable. They are prioritising profits at the expense of paying their employees labour market wage rates and placing women’s lives at risk. Corporate greed should have no place in New Zealand’s state funded breast cancer screening programme.

The strike will take place on Thursday 16th of December 2021 and will involve Mammographers from Dunedin, Invercargill, Nelson, Timaru and Christchurch. It is the first strike by mammographers employed by a private sector company in New Zealand’s history.

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