Agricultural wages increase agreed

Minimum wages for agricultural workers will rise by up to 2.2% after an Agricultural Wages Board agreement, escalating pressures on producers.

Bob Fiddaman, NFU employment spokesperson said he was disappointed the increase was over the 1.9% agreed by the Scottish AWB and was at the limit of acceptability given market pressures.

The increase will apply to all grades with the exception of grade 1 workers, who will see their salaries increase from £5.71-£5.81, a move welcomed by the NFU.

“We are pleased grade 1 increases have been kept modest, as this is critical to industries like horticulture that employ large numbers of seasonal workers,” said Mr Fiddaman.

During negotiations leading up to the agreement, employee representative, Unite, claimed that the rise in farm incomes last year could compensate for any wage increase, said Mr Fiddaman.

He pointed out that the situation for 2009 was very uncertain and with unemployment levels having risen to 7.2% he wanted an agreement that preserved the ability for the farming industry to protect jobs and create opportunities for rural employees.