Union bosses have welcomed a decision by supermarket chain Lidl to offer the living wage to employees in Northern Ireland.
The company faced criticism after offering the pay rise to staff in England, Scotland and Wales but not workers in its 38 stores in Northern Ireland.
Staff had planned pickets outside stores to demand the policy was extended.
The retailer has now announced that the anticipated living wage of £8.20 per hour will be paid to entry level staff in Northern Ireland. The company said a similar pay rise would be extended to employees in the Republic of Ireland.
Union Unite said the move demonstrated the power of workers.
Unite regional officer Susan Fitzgerald said: “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.
“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.”
The union official said planned protests in Belfast and Londonderry were being called off.
She said other retailers must also adopt the living wage.
“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.”
John Paul Scally, managing director, Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be the first major food retailer to commit to the Living Wage in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“Already the majority of our team earn in excess of the living wage, however it is important for us to ensure that those whose hourly pay falls below £8.20 benefit from a substantial increase. This would bring them to a level that is more reflective of enjoying a better standard of living.”