While many of their counterparts around the country have received a significant pay increase, cleaners at Hawke's Bay Hospital feel "left out".

It is a sentiment which has led them, along with service workers at Wairarapa Hospital, in the same position to take industrial action.

The E tū members employed by hospital contractor, OCS voted "unanimously" at a meeting on Tuesday to strike for 24 hours on February 26.

Late last year about 4000 directly employed hospital service workers were granted a 40 per cent pay rise in the next three years, as part of a Multi-Employer Agreement (MECA) between 20 District Health Boards and the E Tū Union.

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However, private contractors, including OCS, were not part of the agreement.

Hawke's Bay Hospital E tū delegate Anne Bills has spent the best part of 30 years working as a cleaner at the organisation and is tired of living "pay cheque to pay cheque".

"We are finding it hard to make ends meet and knowing what we could be on we have just had enough," Bills said.

She said they were excited when they heard about the pay rise last year, but it was short lived. Now morale is at an "all-time low".

"We feel that we have fallen between the cracks.

"It is a horrible feeling when you are doing the same job as everybody else in the country and working hard and taking pride in your job and you are not being recognised for that."

E tū industry coordinator Sam Jones says for OCS members, there is no settlement, pay rise or back pay in sight.

"OCS has so far failed to respond to members' claims with respect to the MECA, nor to settle on the same terms.

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"It claims there is no settlement yet because of hold ups at the DHB funding end. The DHB says there is no problem, pointing the finger back at the contractor.

"Either way, this isn't good enough after the settlement was signed off and promoted by the Ministry of Health, and the Health Minister himself," Jones says.

He said "in good faith" they have kept OCS and both DHBs notified and a formal strike notice will be issued on Thursday.

General manager Central Region, Clinton McKee, said OCS had been working with the union and the relevant DHBs with some urgency, in order to progress discussions around the contractor agreement.

"As a third party contractor, the discussions involved in such an agreement are slightly more complex. However, we have been actively working with all those involved to get into the position where we could respond fully to the union's proposal," he said.

"We have been keeping the union updated on these developments and we are working towards meeting with them in the first week of March. Our aim would be to reach an agreement as soon as possible when these discussions recommence.

"We were under the impression that we had an informal agreement with the union
around this timeline, and are surprised by reported developments earlier this week."

McKee said he was mindful of their obligations to workers but also an obligation to clients in terms of managing budget and cost.

"We sincerely hope that this surprising development does not delay the discussions we were set to have so that we can provide some certainty to our people and our clients."