Agricultural Wages Board moves closer to abolition

Unite has said it will fight on to keep the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) after grower representatives welcomed another step towards its abolition.

In the final reading of the Public Bodies Bill last week, MPs voted against the amendment that aimed to block the Coalition from bringing forward legislation to scrap the AWB.

The move was opposed by Labour and union Unite who mobilised rural workers to demonstrate outside Parliament in a bid to persuade them to back their campaign to maintain the AWB.

Campaigner and nurseryman Dave Hide said: "We need to promote careers in our sector to help young people see it as a viable job opportunity. Now they see it as a low-paid, low-skilled sector in which it is very difficult to make ends meet."

But Hayloft Plants owner and AWB NFU representative Derek Jarman said: "We have a Government that listens to marketplace issues and delivers on its promises. I look forward to abolition of the AWB in 2012."

Berry Gardens Growers owner and AWB NFU representative Robert Pascall added: "It won't reduce our costs, it just gives us flexibility. For horticulture, this will make it easier to run up overtime on particular days, making it easier to have a rolling workforce when supplying the supermarkets."

The next steps will be a consultation on abolition to be published by Defra, along with an impact assessment. Secondary legislation will be needed, with consultation before the year end.

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