FIRST Union claims some staff at a distribution pallet company are living in cars because the pay is so dismal.
Fifty workers from CHEP's Christchurch plant are striking on Monday morning. Union members want a raise of $1.50 an hour.
The union says the company has rejected their demands, claiming the staff in Auckland are paid more because the cost of living is higher.
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Secretary Paul Watson says workers just want secure and fair paying jobs.
"We have had people living in cars and makeshift homes and getting pneumonia because of their living situations. The turnover of staff down here is high because it's not easy work and the pay is so low.
"It's another case of the working poor. It's just not right."
Mr Watson says the company is making "millions" and the annual cost of the pay boost would be equivalent to only three days' profits.
FIRST says most employees are on about $17 an hour. The Living Wage campaign says workers should be getting at least $20.55.
Newshub has contacted CHEP for a response.