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Unite defends the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board

Unite defends Scottish Agricultural Wages Board

21 September 2016

Scotland’s biggest union says the Scottish Government should ignore calls from farmers and landowners to abolish the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board.

In a joint statement released yesterday (Tuesday 20 September), NFU Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates said the Board was no longer needed, because agricultural workers were already covered by laws on the National Minimum Wage. 

But Unite has re-affirmed its support for the Board. In December 2015 the union succeeded in persuading the Scottish Government to keep the Board in place as a protection for agricultural workers.

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “We are astonished at this statement from NFU Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates. The future of the Board was examined thoroughly by the Scottish Parliament as recently as 2015 - and MSPs and ministers agreed with us that it was vital to the protection of the interests of agricultural workers. 

“The Board acts as a vehicle for us to continually push for better pay for low-paid agricultural workers. We can understand why employers might want to abolish it – because they could then easily get away with just paying the National Minimum Wage. 

“But we don’t believe that’s good enough. Good employers realise the value of their workers and pay a fair rate for the job. That’s good for them, and it’s good for our members.

“We also have to remember that the Board is not just about pay – it is also about holiday entitlement and other conditions of employment. Without the Board, there would be no mechanism to work with employers to improve the conditions of their workers.

“The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board plays an important role and employers should work with it, instead of trying to undermine it.”

ENDS

For more information contact Unite Scotland press officer David Eyre on 07960 451631 / david.eyre@unitetheunion.org

Notes to editors

For more information on the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board see their website at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/Rural/business/18107/Board

Unite Scotland wrote a briefing paper on the vital role of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board in July 2015. It can be viewed here: http://www.unitetheunion.org/uploaded/documents/0000046-SAWB%20Consultation%202015%20(1)11-23168.pdf

The joint statement by NFU Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates can be seen here: http://www.nfus.org.uk/news/2016/september/agricultural-wage-negotiations-new-timeframe