30 April 2001
New wages are ‘disaster’ for farming

By FWi staff

FARMERS representatives claim that the 20 pence per hour increase in wage levels agreed by the Agricultural Wages Board will be a disaster for the industry.

The National Farmers Union estimates that the total cost of the award will be about 86 million and is likely to lead to further job losses in the sector.

The Transport and General Workers Union, which represents agricultural workers, has described the pay increase as fair and affordable.

Lead negotiator, Barry Leathwood said in the context of the current circumstances the union was very pleased with the deal.

But Bob Fiddaman, NFU employment and education committee chairman has criticised the increase for coming at a time when farm incomes are so low.

In just two years more than 11,000 full-time farmers have left the industry and some 40,000 paid employees have been laid off, said Mr Fiddaman.

This award can only exacerbate the dire situation faced by many surviving farm businesses and lead to further job losses.

The board agreed that from 1 October the basic rate for full and part time workers will increase from 4.57 to 4.77.

Rates for casual workers will rise from 3.73 to 4.10.

Part of the settlement is compensation for a delay in this years rate, which should have come into effect on 1 July.

The National Minimum Wage adult rate will rise from 3.70 to 4.10 in October and to 4.20 in October next year.

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