New Zealand Qualifications Authority staff walked off the job this afternoon over unhappiness with pay and employment talks.
Just over half the workers, 230 staff, left work at 2pm today to protest collective agreement negotiations.
A pay offer was made by NZQA last month but was rejected by the Public Service Association.
PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was unusual for public sector workers to walk off the job but the authority had refused to compromise during contract talks.
Mr Wagstaff said members were frustrated with NZQA's ``outdated and complex'' pay system.
``Negotiating pay is a fundamental part of bargaining and it is astounding that NZQA seems to think it can ignore that by saying it is not prepared to talk about it.''
He said PSA was trying to achieve a simpler pay system that would deliver increases to everyone's base salary.
NZQA's chief executive Karen Poutasi said there were a number of issues that needed to be settled and the authority would be back negotiating with the PSA next week.
She said NZQA was fully committed to the bargaining process and had arranged a mediator to help during talks.
``We continue to negotiate in good faith towards a settlement of a new collective agreement. The PSA are aware of this and it is disappointing that they have chosen to escalate issues at this time,'' Ms Poutasi said.
- APNZBy Kate Shuttleworth @K8Shuttleworth Email Kate