NFU Scotland is urging farmers across the country to fill in a survey
to help it assess the damage caused by the Scottish Agricultural
Wages Board (SAWB) decision last year to scrap age-related minimum
rates of pay. The Union is campaigning for their reinstatement.
Until 1 January 2007, the minimum rates of pay for agricultural workers
differed depending on an employee's age. However, to the dismay of
the farming industry, these bands were removed by a decision of the Wages
Board last year.
The scrapping of age-related pay bands for agricultural wages means that
a younger worker who may be legally unable to carry out certain agricultural
activities (such as driving a tractor) must be paid the same rate as an
older worker. NFUS believes this will block the entry into the industry
of younger workers and jeopardise existing jobs. The move contrasts with
the National Minimum Wage, which has retained banding.
However, before leaving office ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections,
Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie asked the Wages Board Chairman to
reconvene the Board to reconsider the decision to scrap age-related pay
bands. To reinstate them, NFUS must be able to demonstrate that their removal
has had an adverse impact on employment decisions; hence the survey launched
today to collect evidence.
The NFUS Wages Board survey is being issued to NFUS members and it is also
available online at www.nfus.org.uk Alternatively, a copy can be obtained
by phoning 0131 472 4023 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Chairman of the NFUS Legal and Technical Committee, Jamie Smart, said:
“The Minister's decision to ask the Wages Board to reconvene
to look at age-related pay bands is hugely important. However, the only
hope we have of over-turning the decision to scrap them is if we have clear
evidence of the detrimental impact their removal has had.
“I would urge any agricultural employer to respond to the survey
so we can get the best picture possible of what is happening on the ground.
“We need to move quickly on this as the Board meets in a fortnight
and we want to present our initial findings then.
“We need to encourage the next generation of workers into our industry
with good pay and conditions. However, the Board's decision last year
has tied many farmers' hands as they simply can't financially
justify hiring a youngster when they can get an older, fully qualified worker
at the same rate. We now have an opportunity to right that wrong.”
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