September 23rd: Unite Regional Officer, Susan Fitzgerald, challenged Lidl on its policy of paying Northern Ireland workers less than the £8.20 an hour it has promised workers in England, Scotland and Wales:
“The decision by Lidl to exclude its Northern Ireland staff from a commitment to pay all workers a Living Wage of £8.20 is clear discrimination. Corporate management have sought to hide behind the excuse that Lidl NI and Lidl UK are two different companies which is a very convenient way of avoiding paying workers here the same as those in England, Scotland or Wales.
“There appears to be some lack of clarity about Lidl NI’s existence as a standalone entity. Lidl NI has 38 outlets in Northern Ireland but has not submitted any accounts. The latest accounts lodged by Lidl UK to Company House are those for the entire Lidl consolidated group as a whole. Given the interlinked nature of Lidl’s corporate structures – we believe that there is little justification for differential treatment of workers in one part of the business.
“Unite has been able to confirm that Lidl’s statement that it is paying all its Northern Ireland workers the current UK Living Wage (£7.85 an hour) is untrue. We have members who are continuing to be paid £7.50 an hour.
“Lidl appears to be seeking smoke and mirror arguments to confuse the public over their pay policy but our members know the truth and will not accept second-class status. The company must show it values workers here the same as it does those from other parts of the UK by paying them the same Living Wage rate.
“Management have yet to respond to our request for a meeting to discuss our concerns – but Unite will not allow Lidl to erect a divisive wall between workers”, Ms Fitzgerald concluded.