Lidl, the German budget supermarket, has given workers in Northern Ireland a pay hike as part of a plan to put all staff on a living wage.
The chain had initially left Northern Ireland out of the scheme.
Lidl pays staff in London £9.35 per hour, and those in the rest of England, Scotland and Wales £8.20, leaving Northern Ireland workers on less.
The company cited business structure reasons for the regional pay discrepancy, but has now bumped Northern Ireland staff on to the £8.20 an hour package.
Lidl employs around 600 people in Northern Ireland.
Staff were preparing demonstrations outside stores to try and force the policy to be changed. But Lidl has bowed to pressure, and staff in Northern Ireland will now get the same wage as their colleagues in the rest of the UK.
Currently, the living wage, which is set by a panel of economists, is not a legal requirement, but the UK government plans to introduce a mandatory living wage early next year.
The National Living Wage is intended as a means of ensuring that workers can enjoy a basic standard of living, and be able to afford food, rent and transport without needing to have more than one job
Trade union, Unite has been vocal in criticising Lidl over recent weeks, starting a Twitter campaign using #LidlFairPay to highlight what it felt was unfair treatment of Northern Irish workers. This morning, regional officer Susan Fitzgerald 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.”
John Paul Scally, Lidl’s managing director in Ireland and Northern Ireland, was keen to point out that most of the company’s employees already earn more than the Living Wage, and that his company is the only supermarket to commit to the extra pay “We are delighted to be the first major food retailer to commit to the Living Wage in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
He also stressed that increasing wages would not lead to increased prices in stores, although the company would need to make an investment to ensure that the new wages could be paid.