A handful of workers picketed outside Farmers in Napier yesterday afternoon in an effort to get better pay.
Placards and chanting urged public support for the protest, organised by First Union and held at midday, which was met with dozens of toots from passing vehicles.
Beauty, sales and service assistants voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over their pay and pay review process.
Strike action ranged from one hour to five hours and affected 55 stores.
As well as the picket in Napier, there were also pickets in Botany, St Lukes, Pukekohe, Rangiora, Blenheim, New Plymouth, Lambton Quay, The Base Hamilton, Gisborne.
First Union's cross-sector organiser for Hawke's Bay, Mike McNab, said workers should not be in this situation.
"It is very unusual for retail workers to do this kind of activity, especially from a Farmers store so this is very radical but it shows the depth of their feeling."
Farmers workers typically start on or near the minimum wage of $16.50, with $17.50 being the end of the pay scale for most roles.
Any pay increases from there are only obtained through performance pay reviews – which have been branded as unfair by Farmers members.
Farmers members believe the performance pay review system is unfair and have handed in a more than 600-strong petition to management asking for the Living Wage and an end to the performance pay system.
The company's latest offer was rejected by 93 per cent of members.
"They're being paid a lot less than the living wage - very close the minimum wage," McNab said.
"They haven't got much because they're not getting much - they can't provide alot of the essentials for their families; school fees have gone up, petrol has gone up, the cost of living has gone up."
"We hope that there will be a pay rise - that the company will recognise the worth and value of their workers and will give them a pay rise rather than performance based pay."
Workers from both Hastings and Napier stores spent their time handing out flyers, speaking to customers and making their voice heard with slogans such as "stand up, fight back. Workers rights are under attack" as well as carrying placards outside the store on Hastings St.
Hawke's Bay Today contacted local Farmers stores, but management declined to comment.