Scottish Agricultural Wages Board – Consultation on continued need for minimum wages for agricultural workers in ScotlandMonday, June 30th, 2008
Wage-fixing machinery in the agricultural industry in Scotland has been in place in various forms since 1917. The Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949 consolidated the regulatory Acts of 1937 and 1940 and provided for the establishment of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB). Under the 1949 Act and its subsequent amendments, the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board is empowered to make Orders fixing minimum wage rates, holiday entitlement and other conditions of service for agricultural workers in Scotland.
However, UK legislation does not permit the Wages Board to agree minimum rates of pay that are below the National Minimum Wage.
Similar arrangements for determining minimum rates of pay and other conditions for agricultural workers exist in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland under different legislation.
The expression “agricultural workers” covers agriculture and horticulture including market gardens, gardens and nursery grounds, but excluding private or ornamental gardens from which no more than a small amount of product is sold. It also applies to foresters and workers in certain types of fish farming.
The SAWB is an autonomous body comprising:
- five independent members appointed by Scottish Ministers,
- six members representing the interests of employers, five nominated by the NFU Scotland and one nominated by the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association, and
- six members representing the interests of workers, nominated by Unite the Union (formerly the Transport and General Workers’ Union).
The consultation document does not indicate any preference for the future of the Wages Board. Rather, it seeks views on whether special arrangements should continue to apply to agricultural workers and, if so, what terms and conditions should continue to be covered by the Wages Orders. It also asks whether, instead of retaining the SAWB, it would be better to replace it by a panel with advisory powers only, or to treat agricultural workers in the same way as all other workers.
The consultation document is available at the link given below. Comments should be received by 30 September 2008.
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