Nelson mental health workers walk off job over 'years' of employment contract issues

Mental health workers across the top of the South Island have walked off the job in protest of "years" of employment contract issues.

Around 30 Gateway Trust employees, who help vulnerable young people in Nelson, Greymouth, Motueka and Blenheim, chose to take strike action for one hour today.

"The hardest thing for members has been taking time away from clients," Etū Nelson organiser Ria Holmes said.

"And that's reflective in the time taken away to strike".

The union says its Collective Agreement with the Trust expired more than two years ago.

Since then, Etū claims the Trust has delayed settling a new agreement which addresses a range of contract concerns.

"Workers feel they are being bullied. They've been threatened with the loss of their jobs and the Trust is restructuring which could affect members' hours and even their jobs," Ms Holmes said.

But Gateway Trust Chief Executive Tracey Tuhi refutes those claims, saying the strike action "came as a surprise".

"There are inaccuracies in the statement and concerns raised that have never been brought to our attention. However, I am not going to debate these in the media - instead, my focus is on looking after our staff and our clients as we go through this process," Ms Tuhi says.

Gateway Trust and the union are due to meet for further talks on Thursday.

A notice for a second strike has also been issued.

Around 30 Gateway Trust employees took strike action for one hour today. Source: 1 NEWS