Burger King workers are continuing to strike today after hundreds picketed outside stores on Friday and Saturday.
After a year of ongoing negotiations between the union and the fast-food chain, staff have gone on strike in Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Wellington for higher pay and work rights.
Unite Union national secretary Gerard Hehir said Burger King workers were among the lowest paid workers in the fast-food industry, and they wanted to be on par with others in the sector.
"These are people that want to work. Our view is if people work they should be able to pay their rent and have enough to live," Hehir said.
"That is what we're talking about - a living wage so that people can earn enough to have a decent life. We want Burger King workers to get paid the same as the other major fast food chains do."
Hehir said store managers were on $16.88 per hour - 38 cents above the minimum wage, and workers on salaries were expected to do excessive hours of unpaid overtime.
"If they work an hour or an hour and a half overtime, which is quite common, then they're actually working for less than the minimum wage," Hehir earlier told the Herald.
"These are managers, people running the stores and managing other staff, and they are getting paid less than the minimum wage. Someone at KFC in the same position would be getting $24 an hour so there's a huge gap."
Hehir said Burger King had always paid its staff less than the industry average.
"Burger King can afford it, they're owned by The Blackstone Group, one of the biggest private equity companies in the world, so it's our job to make sure they do pay a fair wage," he said.
Pay rates for staff on hourly wages were also low, despite negotiations for increases spanning a year, he said.
According to Hehir, the fast food operator had refused to attend mediation meetings for three weeks.
"They are offering 2 cents extra an hour for maintenance crew and team trainers, they are expected to do all the other things but for 2 cents extra an hour are expected to train crew and to do all the additional maintenance work."
In a statement, Burger King marketing general manager James Woodbridge said the company had earlier in the year "taken the step to pay all employees above minimum wage".
"Burger King still remains bargaining in good faith with Unite Union and it is very disappointing that Unite Union have opted to take industrial action whilst this process is underway," Woodbridge said earlier.
He said the company was unable to comment further.
The strike will end at 2am tomorrow morning.
Unite Union has 500 Burger King members, around 40 per cent of its workforce.