Members of the Public Service Association and E tū unions have rejected a pay increase of 15 cents an hour, phased in over two years amid claims that non-union workers are being offered at least 30 cents more.
"We are deeply disappointed that it's come to this," said PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay. “This offer cements us into poverty wages and it's an insult to our members and the work they do,” he added.
E tū Waikato organiser Iriaka Isaacs said its members were offended by the offer and felt the walk-out was the only option.
“This is the first time most of our members have ever taken strike action, but they feel they have no other choice," E tū Waikato organiser Iriaka Isaacs says.
"The proposed increase is an insult to our members, particularly when non-union workers have been given more,” she added. “We believe there is money there to fund a better pay offer."
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An estimated 200 specialist support workers are picketing in Waikato for two hours today after unions failed to finalise a new collective agreement with employer Community Living Limited.