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Survey seeks views members views on agriculture wages

The labour crisis in Scotland and the UK is having significant impacts on the agricultural sector and the availability for both seasonal and permanent staff. These pressures are only made worse by the increasing costs of fuel, fertiliser, and the general cost-of-living. Labour costs are also having a significant impact on our farmers.

Many NFU Scotland members have come forward during recent research to highlight the struggles they face following Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis. The lack of availability of labour is adding to these struggles. Many farmers, particularly in the soft fruit industry are seeing significant impacts on their businesses caused by seasonal labour being unable to enter the UK. Usually, Scotland welcomes around 10,000 seasonal workers each year, this has dropped significantly this year. This is creating a multitude of issues for many sectors, but agriculture is really taking a hit. The cost-of-living has also increased tenfold in the last few months with fuel and fertiliser hitting all time highs. Increasing wages at this point will only put more pressure on our already struggling producers. So, what needs to change?

Ultimately, costs need to be decreased somewhere, many producers are trying to cut production costs wherever they can, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Therefore, the consumer is taking on some of those costs in the form of an increase in food prices. At this point, an increase in National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage is only going to increase costs for the producer and therefore increase the cost taken on by the consumer. In addition to this, consistently increasing basic wage rates is only making it more difficult to find experienced labour. By offering a lower basic rate, producers will be able to employ the younger generation with less experience and skills and allow them to grow and develop within the industry, as well as allow space for wage increases as their skills and experience improve.  The Agricultural Wages Board is also trying to make changes to sick pay and overtime within the agricultural industry. Changes such as different rates for different shifts, or changes to overtime rates will only make an already difficult industry, even harder to operate in. With this in mind, what can we do about it?

As an NFU Scotland member, you have the opportunity to be involved and express your views. The more evidence NFU Scotland can gather to inform our discussions and negotiations with the wages board, the better. Help us make our case in support of our producers.

If you are an employer or an employee, NFU Scotland are seeking your views on the current sick pay and overtime rates set out by the Wages order and how this impacts your business. You can do this by completing a short online survey, the results of which will be used to inform NFU Scotland lobbying efforts with the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board.

To have your say, complete our short survey via this link -  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/63JJ69C





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