St John Ambulance is having to pay to fix ambulances, vandalised by its own staff.
An internal memo, leaked exclusively to TVNZ’s Breakfast programme, shows that recent strike action has left several vehicles in the fleet needing repair work.
A large number of the charity’s paramedics, represented by First Union, have been using chalk pens and permanent markers to write slogans on the ambulances to draw attention to an ongoing pay dispute.
Writing appeared on ambulances based in Auckland, Hamilton, and Christchurch.
The memo also says that members of the public have been caught writing on the vehicles.
Sue Steen, St John Director of People and Capability, told 1 NEWS that "while First Union members are exercising their right to take industrial action we are disappointed that some graffiti has caused damage to emergency ambulances."
"We have received formal complaints from our donors, supporters and St John members and the graffiti is causing increased distress to patients and families already in a vulnerable state," she said.
St John was unable to clarify how many vehicles have been damaged, and the estimated cost of repair work.
First Union says it’s only aware of one ambulance that has been damaged.
Spokeswoman Sarah Stone said "we have discussed one incident with St John where they told us that they were finding it hard to remove some writing from a reflective strip."
"We then reminded our members to use the removeable chalk pens."
Talks between First Union and St John continue this week.
By Andrew Macfarlane