A small group of Tauranga support workers gathered on what they called a rare day off to speak up about better working conditions.

Less than a dozen care and support workers employed by IDEA Services met at Tauranga's Red Square as part of a 12-hour nationwide strike.

E tū union Tauranga delegate Nicky Rainford said the union had been in negotiations with IDEA Services since the last strike action in April.

"They have adjusted some of the claims and equally we have adjusted some of our claims but not the ones we think are important, which are recognised for senior support workers, safer staffing levels and health and safety," she said.


"They are looking for the workforces to be more flexible. We are already flexible. We are away from our own families at weekends, how much more flexible do they want us to be?"

Rainford said the workers did not want to strike because days off were very rare and people would rather spend the spare time with families.

Fellow E tū delegate Tanya Oomen said support workers were required to be available "at the drop of a hat".

"How can you do that if you have got children?" she said. "But we agree to it because we have a duty of care. If we don't turn up who else will?"

Tauranga support worker Fiona Robertson said it was hard trying to be in more than one place at once.

"I live in Te Puke and I cover Greerton, Pāpāmoa and Mount Maunganui. That is seven houses and two vocational - and they want me to be more flexible," she said.

"I have to remember all of the different medications at each of the houses... It can be emotionally draining."

IDEA Services chief operating officer Joan Cowan said considerable planning was undertaken to ensure enough staff were available to keep the people they support safe during Sunday's strikes.


The organisation was confident people were being supported naturally and remained committed to achieving a collective agreement for support workers, Cowan said.