Wages board's pay rates anger industry bodies

The Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) has doubled the difference between its lowest pay rate and the national minimum wage (NMW), leading to a storm of protest from growers and industry bodies.

Grower and AWB negotiations industry representative Derek Jarman has written to his MP to demand answers about why the AWB still exists, its costs and the disparity between the NMW and AWB minimum wage.

"Why did the horticultural industry in England and Wales have the difference between its lowest rate of pay and the NMW doubled from 1p to 2p?" asked Jarman. Growers in Scotland face a 3p surcharge above the NMW.

He said the negotiation took 28 people three days to discuss in a country hotel in Northampton at tax payers' expense. "With the NMW in place, it has to be time to get rid of the AWB, immediately," he added.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: "Salaries must be market-driven. The AWB is an industrial relations relic that has no place in modern society. I am calling on the Government to scrap the board at the earliest opportunity."

Proposed pay award per hour for a maximum 39-hour week:
- Grade 1: £5.95
- Grade 2: £6.58
- Grade 3: £7.24
- Grade 4: £7.76
- Grade 5: £8.23
- Grade 6: £8.88

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