British union campaign for Scottish agricultural worker`s rights

Immigrants could be hit by the government’s proposals

27 November 2008. Unite, largest union in the United Kingdom, has announced that it is holding this afternoon a photo call at the Scottish Parliament in support of the maintenance of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB) and the protection of agricultural worker’s rights.

Unite is campaigning against the Scottish Government’s proposals to cancel the SAWB which provides fixed minimum wage rates, holiday entitlements and other conditions of service for Scotland’s 25,000 agricultural workers under provisions of the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949.

The campaign to preserve the SAWB has further intensified following the UK Government’s decision to consolidate its support for the maintenance and continued development of the Agricultural Wages Board in England and Wales.

Unite Scottish Secretary, John Quigley, said: “The SAWB constitutes a model of best practice in industrial relations due to the removal of discriminatory wage rates and enhanced holiday entitlements which exceed the statutory minimum.

“Scotland’s agricultural sector is unique given the disparate nature of the workforce and their diverse occupational profiles. It is also an industry with notoriously high fatality and injury rates and, due to the reliance on migrant labour, is also more prone to exploitation with the prevalence of gangmasters.

“The UK Government recognises the unique conditions facing agricultural workers and the need for a collective negotiating body – so why is Alex Salmond intent on driving down the pay and conditions of Scottish agricultural workers to the absolute minimum? The Scottish Government should think again.”

The photo call with supporting MSPs is due to take place today at 12.30pm in the main lobby of the Scottish Parliament, immediately following First Minister’s Questions.

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