A bitter pay row with the Public Service Association has led Auckland district health boards to seek independent facilitation.
The dispute involves both clinical and non-clinical staff.
The DHBs and the PSA have been negotiating a new collective agreement for 3000 staff.
At issue is the DHBs' plan to pay time and a half rather than double time penal rates for ordinary hours worked over the weekend.
The boards say the higher rates existed only in Auckland and cost $4 million a year that should go towards improving services.
They have asked the Employment Relations Authority to recommend how to resolve the row.
The PSA says it had just received the boards' application, and was yet to make a decision.