In a first for New Zealand, 21 general practitioners from five iwi health providers in the Wellington region will go on strike for an hour tomorrow.
Lloyd Woods, an industrial officer with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists said the dispute arose after Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira, which runs Ora Toa Health, failed to allow its dentists to join a collective employment agreement covering its doctors.
Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira and the ASMS have been in negotiations and have met unsuccessfully three times, including through mediation, to renegotiate the collective agreement.
Mr Woods said negotiations with the rūnanga were reasonably good-natured and both parties had looked for win-win solutions in the past, but the absolute refusal to recognise the dentists' role in the medical team was unacceptable.
The dentists had been a great addition to the iwi health service and had support from the doctors on the team, Mr Woods said.
"They all get on well and are working together, so on one hand you might say, 'What does it matter?' But basically it's about recognition and basically giving a fair go.
"Here we have two people employed in the same place, in the same team. Dentists and doctors have similar qualifications and if you look across New Zealand generally - in DHBs for instance - doctors and dentists are covered by the same agreements."
Mr Woods said tomorrow's one-hour strike was carefully planned to ensure patients were inconvenienced as little as possible.
Four more one-hour strikes will be held over the next couple of weeks, with a full-day strike scheduled for 24 December.
RNZ contacted Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira but has not yet received any response.