Lidl Ireland has become the first large employer to announce a “living wage” of €11.50 per hour for all its employees here. And it will pay a rate of £8.20 per hour for employees in Northern Ireland following a campaign by Unite, the union of retail workers.
Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash attended a branch of Lidl in Terenure for managing director John Paul Scally’s announcement in support of the living wage.
Last September Lidl pledged to pay the UK living wage of £8.20 per hour to workers in England, Scotland and Wales but not to workers in Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland was also excluded from the company’s pledge.
Protests were planned for Lidl stores in Belfast and Derry and Unite had threatened to launch a legal challenge against the supermarket chain for pay discrimination. All threats of industrial action have now been cancelled after Lidl’s announcement.
A Forum on the Living Wage was hosted last week in Dublin Castle by Mr Nash and addressed by Tánaiste Joan Burton, who yesterday welcomed Lidl’s announcement as an “important statement of intent from a large employer”.
A living wage is a calculated rate of income that reflects the reality of basic needs such as housing, food, transport, and healthcare. The living wage technical group in Ireland has calculated the hourly living wage rate is €11.50. Lidl has 143 stores here and employs more than 3,800 staff. Some 20% of the retail giant’s Irish employees will be due a wage increase to meet the new minimum, which comes into effect on November 1.
“In the Republic, we would now urge Lidl to recognise their workers’ union, Mandate, to start addressing other issues like low hours to ensure that the living wage translates into a living income,” Unite’s Ireland secretary Jimmy Kelly, said.
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