About 500 Canterbury health workers have begun a five day-strike in their fight for a 30 per cent pay hike.

The National Union of Public Employees (Nupe) strike, which began at 7am today, affects allied health staff such as mental health nurses, mortuary technicians, occupational therapists and social workers, as well as clerical, maintenance and information technology staff across all Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) facilities.

Nupe organiser Nadine Marshall said the CDHB had 1.7 per cent extra funding for pay increases for clerical, maintenance and cleaning staff. However, no offer had been made for health workers.

"It's unfortunate that the Government doesn't appreciate the critical function for areas such as maintenance, clerical, information technology provide to the health system," she told National Radio this morning.

Nupe is seeking a catch-up "pay jolt" for allied health workers to match the 20 per cent to 30 per cent pay rises offered most public hospital nurses this year.

About 200 Nurse Maude Hospital nurses and caregivers went out on strike for 24 hours on Friday in a similar bid for catch-up pay.

Canterbury District Health Board hospital and specialist service general manager Jock Muir said the hospital had been developing contingency plans for the strike.

"Obviously a strike like this affects many patients and we want to minimise this as much as possible," Mr Muir said yesterday.

- NZPA