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Striker hit by vehicle as tempers flare again at LifeLabs picket line

Police say officers responded to two separate calls about conduct of picketing LifeLabs employees, who've been on strike since May 2

Tempers have flared again as striking LifeLabs technicians continued their picketing outside the Wellington Street location in Barrie on Monday.

Approximately 90 LifeLabs employees, who are members of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 389, have been on strike since May 2 in Simcoe County against what they say are unfair pay and benefit packages.

A striking worker suffered a minor leg injury after they were struck by a vehicle exiting the LifeLabs parking lot on Monday morning.

At approximately 8 a.m. on May 13, police received a report that an individual had been struck by a vehicle in the area of 121 Wellington St., Barrie police spokesperson Jennett Mays said.

"No medical attention was required and injuries were minor. The investigation remains ongoing," she said.

In an interview at the picket line, Renee Aiken Kearsley, a lab tech and president of Local 389, said "the car unfortunately sped out, impatient and trying to get out through the picket line, and clipped one of our members. And thankfully one of our members was standing right beside them and pulled them out of the way.

"He wasn’t very pleasant coming in, so he was impatient going out," she added. "She’s pretty shaken up and was taken to the hospital to get checked out, and hopefully she’ll be OK and be back on the line."

A short time later, a BarrieToday reporter saw a man get out of his vehicle as he was entering the location. He verbally berated several of the strikers before getting back into his vehicle and continuing on.

Officers again visited the picket line later in the morning to investigate, as the same man lodged a complaint with police about the incident.

One of the police officers was seen reiterating the rules of picketing for a few minutes before departing.

"Just before 10 a.m., police were contacted by a member of the public with concerns about the actions of the demonstrators," Mays said. "Police advised both sides about the protocols in place when it comes to strike activities."

Police and fire crews were called to the location last week due to complaints by LifeLabs management about the use of burn barrels by picketers.

With the strike entering its third week, and mixed with bitterness on both sides of the picket line, there is no sign the two sides will come together to negotiate any time soon.

“They’ve sent letters, basically telling the employees that they tried to bargain and they tried to get bargaining dates, and it’s not true," said Aiken Kearsley.

“They have never reached out and we have actually told them that we are ready any day, any time, to go back to the table, and they will not,” she added.

BarrieToday reached out to LifeLabs management for comment on the strike, but they did not immediately respond.

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Kevin Lamb

About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
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