05 November 1998
Farmers try to halt workers’ pay rise

SCOTTISH farmers have made a last-ditch bid to stop a proposed 2.5% increase in the minimum wage of their farmworkers.

The farmers claim they are so hard up that many workers will face redundancy if the deal goes through.

The Scottish National Farmers Union (SNFU) has written to the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board outlining its concerns about the proposed two-stage pay rise between January and April next year.

It has warned that farmers cannot afford the increase because farm incomes have fallen £400 million in three years.

Iain Melrose, SNFU legal officer, said: “The outlook for agriculture gives no grounds for optimism. For farms which are already marginal, and this includes many of Scotlands farms, this could spell disaster.”

Farmworkers said the proposed wage increase was too little.

David Stark, regional agricultural officer of the Transport and General Workers Union, claimed direct farm subsidies in the past decade had risen by 246% to more than £480m.

He said hired labour costs had been stable at £223m, by contrast.

The increases would bring casual pay rates for staff over 19 with less than 13 weeks employment to £3.20 per hour on 1 January, rising to £3.60 from 1 April to bring them in line with the new national minimum wage.

Permanent staff over 19 with more than 13 weeks employment would see their wages rise to £4.26 per hour from 1 January, and to £4.33 per hour from 1 April.

Staff aged 18 would be paid £3 per hour from 1 April, but 16-year-olds would still be earning less than £2 per hour.

  • The Herald 05/11/98 page 28