Wage reforms may take place

The Government is believed to be proposing a Legislative Reform Order to update the “anachronistic” Agricultural Wages Act 1948.

NFU senior legal adviser James Potter said the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) Age & Structure Working Party is to look at reform of the AWB to do more work in bilaterals, reform the consultation process to 12 weeks from the publication of the proposal and counter-proposal, and to allow the AWB to set salaries and a fair price rate. At present it can only set hourly rates. NFU employers’ representative grower member Derek Jarman said: “Requiring the board to set an hourly rate is not realistic. If the board is to have a future it has to be more flexible. DEFRA is looking to save the third of a million pounds a year it costs for the AWB.” Reform requires the support of all parties to the AWB. The matter was to be discussed again today (15 November). A DEFRA representative said: “There is no formal decision to update the AWB act. It is being looked at all the time.” Potter said: “I have no idea why [DEFRA is] denying this.” * See www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/draft/20078870.htm.

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