Scottish growers now face twin burden of Wages Board and Living Wage, says union

NFU Scotland has called on Scottish parliamentarians to address the twin challenges to its members of the continued Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB) and the new National Living Wage (NLW), in the run-up to next month's Holyrood elections.

Image: Michelle Tribe
Image: Michelle Tribe

In its Manifesto for Scottish Farming, the union says its members, particularly in the soft fruit sector, "are keenly feeling the competitive disadvantage of having two systems with UK employment legislation added to the requirements of the Wages Order which only adds to red tape".

It has regularly called for the SAWB to be abolished in the manner of its counterpart in England and Wales, which ceased operation in 2013. Its figures show that Scotland grows one-third of all the UK's soft fruit.

The union has also called on food supply chain to "recognise the impact" of the NLW will have on Scottish farming, particularly the fresh produce sector, where wages can represent more than 40 percent of the operating costs.

Chief executive Scott Walker said: "Farmers are not currently receiving a price for their produce that will accommodate the increased wage bill that the NLW will bring about, either this year or in the years to come. What we need is a change of attitude in the supply chain that recognises that the cost of food production is going to rise, rather than continually screwing down the price."


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