About 50 Tauranga public servants walked off the job today afternoon.
They were among 4000 Public Service Association (PSA) union members from Inland Revenue and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment offices around New Zealand who were expected to join the two-hour strike over better pay.
The union represented roughly half of Inland Revenue's 200 workers in Tauranga and several workers from the small local MBIE team.
They began their march from Inland Revenue's offices on the corner of Cameron Rd and Third Ave, down Elizabeth St to The Strand.
Among the marchers was national union delegate Anne Woods, who said she had worked for Inland Revenue for 39 years.
She was around the last time Inland Revenue members went on strike 22 years ago.
In the intervening years, she said negotiations had been approached with fairness an openness.
That had not been the case this year when members sought a 2 per cent cost of living pay increase and a greater range in salary bands.
"It was just a straight 'no'."
Woods said workloads and work pressure had increased for many Inland Revenue staff over the past year and a half as a new system was being introduced.
Inland Revenue commissioner Naomi Ferguson said agreements had been reached with the two other unions that represented staff at Inland Revenue, covering more than 1000 workers.
"This is obviously a difficult time for many Inland Revenue staff and we know that neither side wanted to get to the point of industrial action."
Ferguson said the organisation had worked hard with the union, and was committed to achieving an agreement.
MBIE general manager human resources Richard Griffiths said the organisation remained committed to continuing constructive discussions with the union and reaching an agreement that was acceptable to both parties at the earliest possible opportunity.
Marches and rallies were held in other main centres including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch while in other towns and cities members have decided to do volunteer work.
Last month the Government announced that around 2000 of the lowest-paid public servants would move on to the 2018 living wage of at least $20.55 an hour.
The new hourly rate – or $42,744 a year – will cost an estimated $7.23 million for a one-off adjustment by September 1.
In subsequent years, the rate will be the subject of bargaining between employers and unions.
So far this year primary school teachers and nurses have also threatened or taken strike action against Government employers over pay disputes.
The PSA said another two-hour strike was planned for July 23.
-Additional reporting NZME