We need to tackle low wages and uncertain working conditions in the food & drink sector

Low wages and uncertain working conditions reduce personal resilience to food insecurity. People working across the food and drink sector experience some of the lowest wages and uncertain conditions.

What needs to be done:

  • Increase the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage, as independently calculated by the Living Wage Foundation using the Minimum Income Standard.
  • Support local food producers: independent and community retailers employ three times as many people per unit of turnover as supermarkets; localising our food system infrastructure is essential if we’re serious about more and better jobs into the future.
  • Use our public procurement purchasing power to support local, sustainable food producers and processors

Invest in local infrastructure (processing, distribution and retail facilities) which will allow producers to add more value to what they produce, sell more locally and boost local jobs

Please find Nourish Scotland's full response to the Fairer Scotland consultation here: http://www.nourishscotland.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Final.Fairer-Scotland-National-Conversation-Nourish-Scotland-Contribution.pdf


Why the contribution is important

The issues:

  • In-work poverty and the growing number of people below the poverty line.
    In the period 2009-2015 the number of people living below the poverty line (below 60% of the average income after housing costs) has increased from 15% to 20%. People with incomes below the poverty line are highly likely to be food insecure.
  • Jobs in the Food & Drink sector remain among the least well paid and most precarious. Wages in all parts of the food system – agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and services – are below the UK average and the sector has a high proportion of zero hours contracts
  • Exploitation is rife in the food sector, particularly for migrant workers.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in England and Scotland found that ‘low-wage migrant workers appear especially vulnerable to forced labour, despite most of those interviewed having the right to live and work in the UK. The intensity of work in the food industry, driven by economic pressures throughout the supply chain, contributes to such exploitation.

  • Farmers – one of the most important jobs in society – are running at a loss.

With the price of produce mostly dictated by big supermarkets, without consideration of the costs of production, it is becoming extremely difficult to make a decent livelihood from farming in Scotland. To produce a four pint bottle of milk, it costs the farmer 62 pence; however they are only paid 48 pence by the retailers, who then sell the bottle for 94 pence. One in three of our farms would not be economic without receiving payments from EU subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy.


by NourishScotland on January 27, 2016 at 10:22AM

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