Public servants are pointing to problems processing Labour's so-called "baby bonus" payments as one reason for going on strike as Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters calls on workers to understand the Government has a limited purse.

The "Best Start" payments of $60 week for parents of newborn babies were designed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she was in Opposition in 2014 and are due to begin from July 1 as part of the Government's Families Package.

Inland Revenue staff are pointing to problems processing those payments as one of the factors in going on strike later this month as they seek higher pay, saying they had to be processed manually which was adding to the workload.

More than 4000 Inland Revenue Department and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment staff are set to strike for two hours on July 9 and July 23.


The notice of strike action comes as nurses also prepare to strike next month and teachers and principals are voting on whether to take industrial action in August.

Peters said yesterday that he was hopeful strike action would not go ahead after mediation and negotiations with those groups.

"We are not unsympathetic to the demands being made of us, we just want those people making those demands to understand we can't fix everything up in the space of six months."

He defended the Government after National leader Simon Bridges said there were now more strikes facing the new Government than National had in its full nine years in office.

Peters did not believe the workers were being opportunistic but were aware that the Government was sympathetic to their wish for higher pay.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters at the post-Cabinet press conference. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters at the post-Cabinet press conference. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"I suppose you tend to, though, go to a bus stop where a bus does come by. And therefore they're making requests from us, not like the previous Government where you could go to a bus stop and it would never turn up at all."

Bridges said Labour's upcoming industrial relations reforms to give unions more influence would worsen matters. The way to increase wages was through growing the economy. "This unrest unleashed by the Government will just slow it down."

Best Start was one of the Labour's key policies, developed by Ardern herself for the 2014 election when she was in Opposition under former leader David Cunliffe.

Ardern herself will not qualify for it because it only applies to babies born after July 1.

Peters said IRD were "flat to the boards" to ensure the payments happened on time and he was sure it would happen even if that meant manual processing.

"In this case, whatever exigencies are required the Government is attending to with the greatest speed it can."

It will give a universal payment of $60 a week for parents until their baby turns one and then income thresholds will apply, giving those on less than $79,000 payments until a baby turns three.