ASUNCION (Reuters) - Eight Paraguayan bus drivers have had themselves nailed to crosses to protest being fired by a transportation company after it rejected their plea for higher pay, a lawmaker said on Friday.

The drivers, from the northern town of Luque, are on their backs, nailed to wooden crosses laid out on the ground. Large nails pierce their hands at the base of the fingers.

They said they took the action in a desperate bid to be heard.

They have been nailed down for 15 days, according to Olga Ferreira de Lopez, a member of Paraguay's House of Congress who is monitoring the situation.

"There have been infections ... . Their state of health is getting complicated," she told Reuters.

Some of the drivers' wives are taking turns being nailed to crosses alongside their husbands.

"I'm joining today. Tomorrow it will be another mother and the following day it could be another because we have to defend our rights," one of the wives told reporters at the scene.

"I'd like to make a special call to the president to please come see the inhumane situation we are going through," she said.

The transportation company has promised to rehire five of them and help the remaining three find work. But the protesters say they will not stop until they all get their jobs back.

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Xavier Briand)