JOURNAL : Farmers Weekly
SUBJECT : scottish wages
AUTHOR : carol mclaren
SECTION : News
ISSUE DATE : 13/09/06
PAGE NUMBER : 16
COPYRIGHT : Free reuse
HEADLINE: Young will suffer if pay structure is changed
TEXT: Young people will find it very hard to get work on farms if moves by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board to change the agricultural pay structure are successful, says NFU Scotland.
But the Transport and General Workers Union in Scotland has hailed the planned ending of different pay rates according to age as a victory.
At present, the minimum agricultural wage is split into five bands (under 16, 16, 17, 18 and 19 and over). However, the Scottish Executive’s legal opinion indicated that that this flouted new age discrimination laws, despite the fact that the national minimum wage has retained its age-band structure.
The new pay deal would give 16 and 17 year olds a minimum increase of over £2/hr. Those under 18 would, as with other farm staff, be entitled to £5.70/hr after a qualifying period of 26 weeks on the national minimum wage of £5.35/hr. The intended new pay structure will now go out for consultation with a confirmatory meeting planned for 15 November.
The NFUS said it could not accept farming being the only industry forced to pay a standard minimum wage, irrespective of age.
Jamie Smart, chairman of the NFUS legal and technical committee, said the decision to scrap age bands was a “nonsense” given the limitations of the work which could be undertaken at younger ages – highlighting the wages board as a “relic of a bygone era”.