More than 100 non-teaching staff at Waiariki Institute of Technology look set to strike during Orientation Week - one of the busiest times for administration staff.
About 130 of the institute's allied staff - which includes non-academic staff such as human resources, administration, payroll and ground staff - voted unanimously at a stopwork meeting today to reject the bargaining position they say Waiariki has taken.
They instructed their union, TIASA, to hold an urgent vote on strike action.
TIASA chief executive Peter Joseph said the members were seeking a $900 (with a minimum of 1.3 per cent) flat rate increase to salaries and an extension of the collective agreement so that it also covered 10 union members who worked at Waiariki's's Holiday Park.
Mr Joseph said staff were frustrated that the institute would not agree to the "modest and affordable" increase and would not extend collective agreement coverage to Waiariki Holiday Park staff, who were the organisation's "lowest-paid and most vulnerable" workers.
"This is viewed as particularly important given the impending merger of Waiariki with Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the uncertainty that this has created with all staff."
He said union members were required by law to hold a secret ballot on whether to strike and that was likely to happen on Monday or Tuesday. If the vote was yes, the strike would go ahead quickly, he said.
Mr Joseph said the timing - during Orientation Week when administration staff were busy with enrolments etc - was purely coincidental. He had hoped the issue could have been resolved without resorting to strike action, he said.
"Staff are reluctant to take action that may affect students but feel that Waiariki's stance leaves them no option."
Waiariki Institute of Technology chief executive Professor Margaret Noble told the Rotorua Daily Post due to other commitments she was not able to comment tonight but would respond on Monday.