Wages board and living wage will unfairly hit Scottish horticulture, say growers

Scotland's soft fruit and vegetable growers say the National Living Wage will put them at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the UK when it comes into force next April.

Image: HW
Image: HW

Meeting at NFU Scotland's head office, specialist growers said they face having to pay the living wage to all workers because Scotland has retained the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB).

In England, where the wages board has been abolished, the living wage will only apply to workers over 25 years of age.

NFUS has already called for the Scottish board, whose future is currently under review, to be abolished also.

Its chief executive Scott Walker said: "Growers in Scotland compete directly with farm businesses in England as well as the rest of Europe and wages can represent more than 40 per cent of the operating costs of such a business.

"The living wage will see any profit margin eliminated unless Scottish growers can recover the extra cost they face through the products they sell. If this doesn't happen, then there will be less Scottish fruit and vegetables produced. The supply chain needs to recognise that what they pay for farm produce is the biggest determinant of what a business can afford to pay its staff and any sensible sourcing commitment from retailers needs to address this issue."

The union will be putting its concerns to retailers and politicians, he added.

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