Belfast Telegraph

Lidl does U-turn over living wage to include Northern Ireland staff

By Claire Williamson

Lidl has done a U-turn and will now include its Northern Ireland staff in the pay rise it awarded to workers in the rest of the UK.

Last month the supermarket chain announced it will pay a minimum of £8.20 an hour across England, Scotland and Wales and £9.35 per hour in London from October 1, benefiting 53% of its 17,000-strong UK workforce.

But its 600 Northern Ireland staff were not to benefit as its operation here is separate.

Staff had planned pickets outside stores to demand the policy was extended.

Lidl has now changed its position and Northern Ireland will be included.

Unite Regional Officer, Susan Fitzgerald, welcomed Lidl’s announcement.

She said: "This is a very significant victory for Lidl workers, our members and Unite, who led the campaign to demand equal pay for workers in Northern Ireland.

“It is clear that Lidl had no intention of paying Northern Ireland workers the same as those in England, Scotland and Wales. This victory has been won by workers joining Unite and getting organised as well as the strength of the wider solidarity expressed behind our #LidlFairPay campaign.

“We believe Lidl must now reconsider their decision to dismiss a worker whose only crime was to question the fairness of Lidl pay policy on Facebook.

“This announcement means other retail chains are now ‘on notice’ that they need to pay the Living Wage – there can be no justification for poverty-pay.

“We are particularly pleased that Lidl’s adoption of the Living Wage will extend to their workforce in the Republic of Ireland. This is an all-island victory for both Lidl staff and Unite.

“Our union will now call off the protests we were organising for later today outside Lidl supermarkets in Belfast and Derry. We will also withdraw from initiating a legal challenge over pay discrimination.

“Unite will continue to build our membership base in Lidl with a focus on addressing the minimum hours and precarious nature of contracts held by many workers. It is vital that all workers have the security and guaranteed hours to mean this Living Wage announcement translates into Living Pay."

John Paul Scally, managing director, Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland, said: "We are delighted to be the first major food retailer to commit to the Living Wage in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"Already the majority of our team earn in excess of the living wage, however it is important for us to ensure that those whose hourly pay falls below £8.20 benefit from a substantial increase. This would bring them to a level that is more reflective of enjoying a better standard of living."

Belfast Telegraph Digital