Farm workers take protest to Parliament over wages board as Country Land and Business Association backs NFU

Protesters will voice their anger at the proposed abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) at a rally in Westminster this lunchtime.

Farm workers - image:HW
Farm workers - image:HW

Workers, a tractor and a band called "Farmageddon" will set up camp opposite the Commons to demand that the government listens to their fears.

Farm worker and AWB member Steve Leniec said: "The government is pushing 154,000 people in to poverty and putting rural communities in jeopardy.

"Without the AWB to negotiate pay and fair housing, wages will fall to the lowest legal wage possible. Bad employers will see this as the opportunity to cut pay and raise housing costs."

The Unite union is staging the rally on Old Palace Yard from 12:30pm, with speeches from TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, farm workers and MPs.

Meanwhile the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has joined the NFU in calling for the board's abolition.

Its president Harry Cotterell said: "Since the introduction of legislation governing the minimum wage, working time and paid holidays, the minimum terms prescribed by the AWB are no longer needed to protect agricultural workers.

"Rather than following guidelines, employers want the freedom to take on skilled people and pay them properly for their work."

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