Unite today (October 8) hailed an all-island fair pay victory, after Lidl caved to union and public pressure and agreed to include Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland in its pledge to pay all staff the Living Wage.
Lidl announced last month that it would pay its entire staff in England, Wales and Scotland a standard rate of £8.20 an hour but inexplicably excluded Northern Ireland.
The company initially said that Northern Ireland workers would not receive the pay rise because their business was organised differently in NI.
Unite challenged their position – and together with consumers and communities organised protests outside Lidl supermarkets in Belfast and Derry, which were set to take place today.
After Lidl made a U-turn on their pay policy – and announced it would include the Republic of Ireland as well – the protests were called off.
“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,” said Unite regional officer Susan Fitzgerald.
“It is clear that Lidl had no intention of paying Northern Ireland workers the same as those in England, Scotland and Wales,” she added. “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.”
Unite has now called on Lidl to reconsider its decision earlier this week to dismiss a worker whose only crime was to question the fairness of Lidl pay policy on Facebook.
Fitzgerald noted that Lidl’s new pay policy means other retail chains are now ‘on notice’ that they need to pay the Living Wage.
“There can be no justification for poverty pay,” she said.
“We are particularly pleased that Lidl’s adoption of the Living Wage will extend to their workforce in the Republic of Ireland,” she added. “This is an all-island victory for both Lidl staff and Unite.”
Fitzgerald said that Unite will continue to build its membership base in Lidl with a focus on addressing minimum hours and the 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,” she said.
Last week, supermarket chain Morrison’s followed Lidl’s lead to pay its entire staff the Living Wage of £8.20 an hour.