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Up to 4000 public servants from IR and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment took part in a two-hour nationwide walk-out, the first strike action by IR employees in 22 years.
In Dunedin, local union organiser Keith McFadyen told 40 or so workers gathered outside IR for a march through the central city, the PSA appreciated they were ``going outside their comfort zone'' by taking part in public action in support of their wage claims.
``I know it's not easy for you, but we need to show we're serious,'' he said.
``For the past nine years, we've seen our pay rates stagnate while housing and other living costs have increased. We need equal pay and a decent salary.''
The living wage was now $42,000, and one in four PSA members working at IR were paid less than $48,000 a year.
Mr McFadyen said the PSA acknowledged members felt nervous about being seen to be involved in a public protest, that it did not feel natural to them ``to march along the main street and sing our own praises''. He thanked them for their courage.
Marching with the IR workers from Rattray St to the PSA rooms in the north of the city were representatives from the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation, NZEI and the Tertiary Education Union.
Members of the public joined the group and passing motorists honked their horns in support.
The strike affected workers in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, as well as Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, Dunedin, Palmerston North, Invercargill, Nelson and Timaru.
While there were organised rallies in some centres, workers in others opted for volunteer work during the two-hour industrial action.
In Nelson, Timaru, and Invercargill employees worked on a beach clean-up, at the local Hospice shop and at Southland Hospital's Ronald McDonald House, respectively.
In central Auckland, about 200 protesters gathered at the intersection of Queen and Victoria Sts, before moving to Freyberg Place for a rally.
About 150 IR staff marched in Hamilton, demanding better pay and conditions.
And in Wellington, hundreds of members gathered in Midland Park in pouring rain before marching to IR's headquarters in the Asteron building.
In Christchurch about 200 workers from the two departments marched through central city streets.