Housing New Zealand suspended five union members today while they were taking industrial action

The five, Public Service Association (PSA) members at Housing NZ's National Contact Centre and IT Service Desk, were not answering calls or emails between 10am and 2pm today as part of industrial action.

A Housing NZ said that the primary focus of the five staff members' roles was to answer customer calls and emails.

"We've treated our staff with as much respect as possible in a pretty difficult situation and we consider our response was entirely reasonable under the circumstances," he said.

The PSA said that by suspending staff Housing NZ had shown itself up as an employer that bullied rather than listened.

Staff had been trying to bargain a fair settlement with their employer for more than a year to gain some certainty around job restructuring, set hours of work and a fair and transparent pay system.

"Housing New Zealand has been holding management workshops that propose values like 'respect' and 'support' be a centre part of its strategic plan," said NZPSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

"It should be listening respectfully to its staff not looking at pie charts and flow graphs on how respect ranks in the organisation."

Mr Wagstaff said workers wanted a fair exchange for the work they do.

"Staff at Housing New Zealand don't even have set hours of work. That's unacceptable," he said.

"Our members remain determined to continue with their industrial action and, if anything, this reaction on the part of their employer will make them even more determined," Mr Wagstaff said.

The Housing NZ spokesman said an offer had been made to the PSA and Housing NZ remained committed to the bargaining process.

"The PSA has been running a campaign of rolling industrial action throughout our business for months and this is the first time we've suspended anybody," he said.

- NZPA