If AWB is here until 2012, expect more wage rows, says NFU's Fiddaman

Full abolishment of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) may not take place until April 2012, leading to a new wages battle next year, says NFU employment spokesman Bob Fiddaman.

Speaking at this year's Southern Growers Show at Roundstone Nurseries, Fiddaman said: "By the time the various bits of legislation are agreed in both Houses of Parliament, there's unlikely to be Royal Assent before October 2011.

"That will mean that any abolition of the board is not likely to happen before April 2012, and unfortunately, there are going to be more negotiations next June and therefore there will be another wage row."

Fiddaman, who is also leader of the AWB employment team, said he thought the wages act was "out of kilter" with modern day employment. "Surely the whole industry wants to get rid of the wages order," he added.

He said the abolition of the board is also likely to hit pay rates for agency workers: "We are going to adopt the national minimum wage for the industry and therefore agency workers doing overtime could technically fall out of those wage requirements as there's no overtime in the national minimum wage legislation."

And on the issue of wage differentials, he said the NFU recommends retaining the AWB pay brackets as a guide for employers.

He added: "There are still a lot of 'what ifs' and the NFU intends to give guidance as much as we can. The intent is to recommend the differentials and that will be backed up by Lantra, which I happen to be a trustee of as well."


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