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Salmon farmer raises wages by 9% for lower income workers

Processing operatives at Scottish Sea Farms’ South Shian facility. Photo: SSF.
Processing operatives at Scottish Sea Farms’ South Shian facility. Photo: SSF.

Scotland’s second largest salmon farmer, Scottish Sea Farms, has committed to paying above the real Living Wage to help employees hit hardest by the soaring cost of living.

Consistently higher than the UK Government minimum wage, which is known as the National Living Wage, the real Living Wage is independently calculated each year based on what people need to live on, helping accredited employers ensure that they pay a fair wage that meets the cost of living.

It’s also re-calculated annually to keep up with rising costs, with the real Living Wage currently set at £9.90 per hour, while the National Living Wage is £9.50 for over 23s.

£10.40 per hour

As part of its annual April pay review, Scottish Sea Farms, which has paid the real Living Wage since 2017, has committed to paying a minimum of £10.40 per hour, representing a 9% increase year on year for its lower income employees.

It brings the company’s entry level salary to £21,632 before overtime, weekend payments, employer pension contributions and annual bonus.

Jim Gallagher: Costs rising for salmon farmers and employees.
Jim Gallagher: Costs rising for salmon farmers and employees.

A very real challenge

“Across each area of our business, costs are rising at a rate and to a level never seen before,” Scottish Sea Farms managing director Jim Gallagher said in a press release.

“In the first four months of this year alone, the cost of fish feed – one of our largest overheads – has risen by 29%, with further increases expected throughout the year. Over the same period, we’ve seen even larger hikes in the price of oxygen (+32%), oil and diesel (+48%), and electricity (+53%). All of which are essential to the smooth-running of our operations.

“Of course, household incomes are under increasing pressure too due to the rising price of food, fuel and energy, amongst other essentials. As an employer, it presents a very real challenge: how best to help employees withstand the worst of the hopefully short-lived inflationary hikes, whilst also ensuring any increases in pay rates are affordable longer-term.

Child care

“By paying the higher rate of £10.40 per hour, we hope to help those on lower incomes and their families who are being hardest hit by the deepening cost of living crisis.”

The pay rise, effective from 1 April 2022, is the latest of several employee benefits introduced by the salmon grower, including enhanced maternity and paternity packages for all employees with one or more years’ service, discounted child-care places, and a new health and wellbeing app.

Providing good terms and conditions is becoming increasingly important at a time when employers in many sectors can find it difficult to fill vacancies.

Fierce competition

SSF’s head of human resources, Tracy Bryant-Shaw, said: “Recruiting and retaining good people is key to the economic sustainability of most businesses, but particularly so for companies like ours that operate in more remote communities where workforces can be smaller and competition for employees is fierce.

“We’ve long recognised that safeguarding the long-term viability of our business starts with looking after our people, and these latest enhancements are all part and parcel of our work to become the employer of choice in our communities.”