The GMA have made a recommendation of a 1.2% increase in pay for all grounds professionals.
The association says that while its recommended pay award of 1.2% for all grounds care bands is lower than in previous years, it is intended to balance any estimated increase in the cost of living with affordability in what is likely to be a very challenging labour market in 2021.
I think it will certainly be interesting to know if, or how many, grounds professionals actually get this recommended pay rise. From my own experiences and understanding very few get anywhere near the salary bands the GMA have been recommending for many years.
For me it is one of the worst traits of our industry that we are one of the lowest paid professions. For far too long we have been branded with the term grass cutters / gardeners / labourers and paid a wage that reflects this description.
I know of a number of professional groundsmen who have worked in the industry for many years who are highly trained, experienced and competent and still only get a minimum wage for their services.
GMA chief executive Geoff Webb has stated in the past that, “Over half of head grounds staff earn more than £25,000 per annum and a fifth earn over £40,000.”
Clearly, the range of salaries is very wide and individuals doing similar jobs, sometimes for similar employers, can be earning significantly different salaries.
However, in reality there are only a few top end ground professionals who get paid anywhere near these salary recommendations. For the majority of grass roots paid professionals their wages are far lower than these guidelines. Perhaps coming in at between £18-£ 21,000 (£9-£11 per hour) if they are lucky.
While researching industry wages I came across this information found on this website which stated other industry wage scales which far exceed ours.
Another site also gave similar figures.
Check out the stats on those links - all very depressing when we know that in general terms, we are paid substantially lower ranges than other trade professionals. The current hourly rate for a plummer nationally is anything between £40-60 per hour
As for other tradesmen the annually salaries are averaging between £25-34,000
If turf professionals are being paid the national living minimum wages these are all under ten pounds per hour. If we use £10 per hour as a guide based on 37.5 hours a week, that will bring in a salary based on 52 weeks of £19,500 - not what you would call a decent wage by today’s standards.
Even if the groundsman has relevant qualifications and certificates and other work related tickets to do his job there are no ruling bodies that state they should be paid ‘x y z’ salary. It is generally down to the employer to set a wage they seem happy to pay. Yes, there may be market forces that will dictate some levels of pay, but for many practising groundsmen their pay is deemed lower than other trade professionals.
This low pay scenario has been going on for far too long. I know both the GMA and BIGGA have been fighting for better pay for their members for years. It is sad that both these organisations do not come together on this subject and finally work with other agencies and major employers to help sort this issue out.
We definitely need to get something done. If we want to attract the next generation of groundsman and greenkeepers, we will need to be able to offer a decent living wage.