More than 400 jobs are promised by supermarket group Aldi with the opening of seven new stores next year.
The German chain is opening two new shops next month and is also promising recruits minimum hourly wage rates which it says beat what is offered elsewhere in the sector.
Aldi Ireland attributes the expansion plans to significant sales growth, with the shops opening in Knocknacarra in Galway and Newcastlewest, Co Limerick, on November 19, bringing their numbers here to 122. The seven new outlets due to open in 2016 will be in counties Cork, Dublin, Kildare (Athy), and Westmeath.
The company says that, from February, a new minimum rate of €11.50 an hour will be paid to employees in its shops, with rates of up to €13.25 already available for those below store manager or assistant store manager grades, which have salary scales ranging from €40,000 to €68,500.
While Aldi Ireland does not negotiate collectively with unions, it says that staff are free to join one but the company pays far higher than market rates.
“We are committed to offering the best pay and benefits in the industry,” said chief executive Matthew Barnes.
“The success of Aldi in Ireland has been driven by the commitment, hard work and ambition of our employees and we will continue to maintain our leading position on pay.”
The new €11.50 minimum wage represents a 10% increase on entry-level pay for stock assistants and caretakers, and a 4.5% rise to its rates for store assistants who currently receive a minimum €11 an hour.
The company said its rates have been ‘market-leading’ for over a decade, and are significantly higher than average in the sector.
The €11.50 rate matches a minimum hourly pay rate which competitor discount supermarket Lidl Ireland announced earlier this month will take effect in its 143 stores on November 1.
Unions have said that a distinction needs to be made between minimum wages and minimum weekly income, as many workers in the retail sector do not get enough hours each week to pay their bills.
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