The only sign of life at the Kaitaia District Court at 11am on Friday was a man climbing a ladder to fix a security light.

Staff at the Kaitaia District Court walked off the job for three hours on Friday, from 10.30am to 1.30pm, on the instruction of the PSA. The Northland Age understands that they were given 30 minutes' notice by the union.

The strike, an escalation of action that began last month in a bid by the PSA to push for negotiation of a pay claim, began 30 minutes after a scheduled list and sentencing day began. Court resumed at 2pm, the usual time following the 45-minute luncheon adjournment.

Action currently being taken nationally by court staff who are members of the PSA includes bans on overtime and audio-visual links (which means defendants who are in custody must be transported from prison to the court to make an appearance, often very brief), and working to rule, all of which are scheduled to continue until December 7.

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Kaitaia District Court manager Tania Parker, who did not join Friday's strike, said the impact would be severe for some people. Anyone who was arrested now, she said, and was denied bail at their initial appearance, would not be able to make a bail application before a judge until January. Those who were convicted and remanded for sentence would have to wait at least until February.

Trials for those who denied charges were already being set down for March and April next year.