As supermarket chain Lidl announced today (September 18) that it would introduce a Living Wage of £8.20 an hour for workers in England, Wales and Scotland, Unite members demand to know why workers in Northern Ireland have been excluded.
“This announcement by Lidl is an insult to our members,” Unite secretary for Ireland Jimmy Kelly said. “Our members who work for Lidl have been contacting the union to express their anger over their exclusion from a Living Wage rate that will be extended to workers in England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland. They want to know why they are being discriminated against.”
Kelly noted that the workers Unite represents in the Lidl Distribution Centre are often asked to work exceptionally long working weeks with little to no notice and this places extra pressure on them and their families yet are paid less than the £8.20 rate that will be guaranteed for all Lidl workers in Britain.
“There is no justification for this discriminatory practice,” he said.
Kelly went on to argue that the Living Wage is a UK-wide measure of the minimum wage per hour that would allow a worker to enjoy a basic standard of living.
“It is a bare minimum for workers and apart from recognition of the particular conditions existing in London, there is no variation of the rate across the UK,” he said. “Unfortunately, there has been a trend of some employers who are trying to argue for a regionalisation of the rate allowing them to pay Northern Ireland workers less.
“Lidl want to get some good publicity by promoting themselves as a progressive, Living Wage employer but the reality is that they want to short change workers in Northern Ireland,” Kelly went on to say.
“For our part, Unite will be meeting our members working for Lidl to consider our response but no doubt consumers across Northern Ireland will take note of a retailer who apparently places a lower value on Northern Ireland workers than those in other parts of the UK.”