9 March 2001
Fury at ‘foot-and-mouth’ wage cuts
By Donald MacPhail
A LEADING cattle breeding company has angered staff by cutting wages by 20% in response to the foot-and-mouth crisis.
Some 714 employees of Genus and consultancy arm Promar have been told that March salaries will be down a by one-fifth.
Executive directors have taken a 20% cut in base salary and all non-executive directors have waived their fees for March.
The company has been hit hard by the foot-and-mouth outbreak because controls have restricted visits by inseminators and other on-farm employees.
But a Genus technician who spoke to FWi said many staff were able to work as normal and others were subcontracted to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The technician, who asked not to be named, said: “Some people cant do anything, but others doing more than ever to keep things going.”
“Its not as if things have come to a standstill as were still working and still providing a service. This is completely unfair and a lot of people are not happy at all.”
But Genus chief executive Richard Wood defended the decision, claiming it shared the burden of the crisis to cause the least pain for everyone.
He said company income had halved since the outbreak last month and that policing, pyre-building and helpline work for MAFF was “small beer”.
He asked: “What do we do? Lay off some staff completely so they cant pay their mortgage?
“After consultation with staff and unions we agreed it was preferable to share the pain, and decided on this course of action”
Mr Wood said as most of Genus business was in the UK, it was not viable for overseas operations to prop up domestic sections.
He said he was amazed other agricultural support companies had not taken similar action and believed they could rue that decision if the crisis worsens.
He warned: “The longer this continues the more its going to seriously affect the company. You cant sustain a business for months without enough work.”
Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage