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22 March 2007

Stevenson Welcomes Move on Agricultural Wages Board

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the decision to review the decision by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board to scrap age-related pay bands.

The change had been causing widespread concern among farmers who believe that the decision to scrap the pay bands for agriculture, whilst retaining them for the National Minimum Wage, created a barrier to new entrants into farming and discriminated against the industry.

The issue was raised with Ross Finnie when he visited North Cranna Farm at Aberchirder, Banffshire, on a visit to the North-east arranged by Mr Stevenson last autumn and followed up by the SNP MSP in writing.

Mr Stevenson commented:

"I welcome the move from Ross Finnie to instruct the Agricultural Wages Board to reconvene to seek further evidence on the issue.

"Anything which presents a barrier to the entry or employment of young people in agriculture must be addressed and I trust that having identified this as a problem, the Board will now take action to address the issue."

In a written response to Mr Stevenson, Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie said:

"Given the widespread concern about the SAWB's decision, the possible implications for the industry and the apparent anomaly between the SAWB's Wages Order (which has no age related differentials) and the National Minimum Wage Regulations (which retain said differentials) I have asked Mr Menzies to reconvene his Board within the near future in order to revisit this issue, by seeking further evidence. You will also wish to know that the SAWB has the powers to make a new Wages Order should it decide do to so."

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