Workers at a Northland quarry have walked off the job this morning and arepicketing the site, stopping traffic from entering the site on State Highway One south of Whangarei.

Twenty workers at Atlas Quarry, on the southern side of the Brynderwyn Hills, about 25km north of Wellsford, gave notice of strike action last night. Early today, they picketed the front entrance of the quarry, preventing trucks from going into the site.

Shortly after 9am, the workers moved their picket to the top of the Brynderwyns and at some stage would return to picket the front gates, First Union spokeswoman Louisa Jones said.

Jones said the workers, including truck drivers and quarry workers, were striking over pay and conditions, mainly wanting to remove a clause in their contract which made truck drivers available to work for up to 88 hours a week.


She said the workers are getting around $20 an hour, less than the industry standard of around $24 an hour.

The Northland Advocate has sought comment from Atlas.

Jones said the striking workers has asked for their pay to be brought up in line with the industry standard and for the 'availability' clause to be removed and replaced with one requiring them to be available for no more than 70 hours a week.

''We think potentially working up to 88 hours week is very dangerous, not just for the workers, but the whole of Northland as it's not safe to have potentially fatigued truck drivers on the road,'' she said.

''They re not asking for anything over and above what is the industry standard and we want the availability clause brought in line with what is in the legislation, which is 70 hours a week.''

Jones said the workers and union considered the availability clause a serious health and safety issue.