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Stackyard News Mar 06

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    Question Marks Remain Over Agricultural Wages Board

Two significant developments this week have raised further questions over the need for the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board. Firstly, an announcement was made that the National Minimum Wage will be rising by six per cent to £5.35 for most workers from 1 October 2006. Secondly, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland yesterday announced the abolition of its Agricultural Wages Board.

NFUS continues to argue that the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board is unnecessary for two reasons. Firstly, the agricultural minimum wage is largely irrelevant because to attract employees on a long-term basis it is necessary to pay in excess of the minimum. The second reason relates to the rises in the minimum wage; whilst few employees are on the minimum, the consistently above inflation rises have created a wage inflation rate across the agricultural sector which is way above that of most other industries.

NFUS Vice President, Bob Howat, said:

“The UK has a National Minimum Wage which is now subject to another significant rise, as well as a plethora of other employment related legislation which protects workers. There is no further need for an agricultural wages board.

“Ultimately, if we are to attract good workers, we have to offer good pay and conditions, hence wage rates are well above the legal minimum. However, the 15 per cent rise in the minimum agricultural rate over the last three years has created an expectation of similar rises across all salaries. That is way above inflation, way above the level in most other industries and contrasts with an economic situation for farm businesses which has seen output prices fall.

“Agriculture is the last sector to have a traditional wages board. The Scottish Executive promised a ‘bonfire of the quangos’ some years ago. It appears the Northern Irish have grasped the issue and I hope we can do away with a body which is adding cost to the industry with no real benefit to employees.”

link NFUS Budget Reaction
link NFUS Warns Of Possible Meat Hygiene Service Strike
link Pressure Pays Off As SEPA Amends Water Charges

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National Farmers' Union
NFU Scotland