Lack of progress in talks over a new collective agreement saw more than 100 carers of Northlanders with intellectual disabilities stage an hour-long strike in Whangarei.

The workers, employed by IDEA Services, have been negotiating a new agreement through their union E tu since last October.

They held placards and flags during their strike outside IDEA Services office on Bank St yesterday morning.

Et tu has 186 members or about 80 per cent of IDEA Services' employees in Whangarei, Kaipara, Kaitaia and Kaiwaka offices.


The strike followed an announcement last week that more than 2000 low-paid health care workers in Northland would receive a hefty pay increase starting from July 1.

Whangarei senior support worker and union member Moana Witehira said workers wanted their employer to address three key issues- better pay, improvements to health and safety, and job security.

Most were paid just above the minimum wage of $15.75 an hour which, she said, was difficult for them to survive on.

IDEA Services, she claimed, offered a zero per cent pay rise.

"We care for the people we support and that's what keeps us in the job."

Ms Witehira said the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 required workplaces to provide one qualified health and safety representative to 19 workers.

"Currently we have one health and safety rep shared between 300 workers and I am sure people are aware of the fact we deal with people who exhibit severe behaviour."

On job security, she claimed IDEA Services shifted support workers between different workplaces without giving notice and consulting with E tu.

"We're supposed to get two weeks' notice for any temporary changes to our roster and four weeks' notice for permanent changes and in a lot of cases that isn't happening," she said.

Chief operating officer for IDEA Services, Janine Stewart, said pay equity announced last week had been the major reason for the delay in sorting out a new collective agreement.

"Now that an announcement has been made we hope to be able to agree that collective soon. We continue to meet with the union in good faith."