Anaesthetic technicians began two-day strike in Northland yesterday and also gave notice of two more full-day strikes.

The Northland District Health Board technicians are escalating industrial action and began their fourth strike, this time across two days, from 7am yesterday to 7am tomorrow.

But yesterday afternoon Apex, the union that represents the 14 technicians, gave notice that they will strike again on November 20 for 24 hours and again for 24 hours on November 22.

Apex national secretary Dr Deborah Powell said the NDHB technicians have been trying to address a recruitment and retention crisis.


''More than 30 per cent of anaesthetic technician positions are vacant, requiring those remaining on the job to work additional shifts and overtime. Surgeries have also had to be cancelled due to insufficient staff numbers,'' Powell said.

''Meanwhile, anaesthetic technician pay rates in the private sector are up to 30 per cent higher than those in the DHB, which exacerbates staff shortages as staff leave the public health sector for better pay.''

She said Apex is committed to resuming bargaining.

Anaesthetic technicians work mainly in operating theatres, providing skilled assistance to the anaesthetist.