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Mediation starts tomorrow in Wellington in a bid to avert the biggest industrial action in health in a decade.
Public Service Association southern region organiser Julie Morton, who is part of the union's national bargaining team, said it was hoped the mediation could avert the action through addressing worker concerns.
However, the union had resisted a request to defer issuing strike notices until after mediation.
Mediation was split into three sessions, with a day each for allied health, nursing and clerical staff.
It was technically possible that only one or two of the vocational groups would settle, but it was likely to be all three or none, she said.
Members felt ''bolstered'' by support from the public since announcing the action last week.
The nearly 12,000 members, almost 1000 of who are in the South, are fighting a 0.7% pay rise, and have raised concerns over training and conditions.
If the action goes ahead, staff will work to rule from August 25 to September 10, observe an overtime ban next month and undertake two short strikes next month.