AWB is safe but bosses need to adhere to rules

Unite union national secretary Chris Kaufman has welcomed the Government's guarantee of the future of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) - but says some bosses are breaking the law and should be prosecuted.

Kaufman said: "A big hand for Hilary Benn and the Labour government. That's good news as we fight off attacks to abolish (the AWB) in Scotland and Ireland while David Cameron has pledged a future Tory government would send it to the knacker's yard."

But he said up to 20 per cent of workers were not receiving the AWB wage minimum, which is set above the national minimum wage. Kaufman added: "Bring on the inspectors and the prosecutions."

Defra minister Benn said the AWB protects "an isolated and scattered workforce, with little scope for collective bargaining".

AWB NFU horticulture representative and Hayloft Plants owner Derek Jarman added: "We adhere to the AWB because we're visible. The majority of employers are law-abiding but AWB is so complicated, it's very easy to make a mistake."

Jarman added that if the Conservatives win the next election, they are likely to abolish AWB within five years. He said: "If you value your workers, you have to reward them to keep them happy. Better businesses will do better without the AWB and poorer ones will do worse. Workers are mobile and if they aren't happy they will move on."

LOSS OF MIGRANTS A 'DISASTER'

Jarman said the exit of hundreds of thousands of Polish workers could spell disaster for horticulture.

Polish government advisers say up to 400,000 Poles could return home because job prospects are better there.

Jarman said: "The pound keeps dropping against the euro, so the Poles are working harder for less. It will mean shortages of workers. There's definitely been soft fruit rotting in the fields."


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

UK production horticulture can become more profitable under one possible Brexit scenario, while other more drastic scenarios will lead to only minor losses in profitability, in contrast to other farming sectors, according to a new report by levy body AHDB with Agra CEAS Consulting.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.

How should agri-tech research for fresh produce function in a post-Brexit UK?

How should agri-tech research for fresh produce function in a post-Brexit UK?

One area affected by the uncertainty around Brexit will be the ongoing development of agricultural technology, seen by many as essential to retain Britain's productivity and competitiveness in fresh produce along with other farming sectors.