Agricultural Wages Board abolition delay means negotiations in 2012

Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) wage negotiations are almost certain this year because legislative complexities have delayed its abolition, the NFU has said.

The Public Bodies Bill, which includes abolition of the AWB and 33 other bodies, received Royal Assent in December 2011. But the act requires a consultation period of at least 12 weeks before any action can be taken.

Defra is now hoping that the consultation will begin by the end of April, in which case it will not finish until the end of July.

AWB wage negotiations have been scheduled for 11-12 June at Highgate House, Creaton, Northants followed by a Agricultural Wages Order (AWO) confirmation meeting on 20 July.

With this timetable, consultation submissions will be analysed and the conclusions presented to the minister at the same time as the 2012 negotiations take place.

In the next stage, the minister may lay a draft order and an explanatory document to abolish the AWB before both Houses of Parliament. Both will then consider the draft order for 40 days and affirm them if they are approved.

Either the Commons or the Lords - or a select committee of either house - may decide to extend the consideration period to 60 days within 30 days of receiving the draft order.

It is expected that the outcome of the wage negotiations will be implemented in a new AWO, which would take effect on 1 October.

The AWB sets wages and benefits above the national minimum wage. Both the NFU and employers have said they are keen to see the body closed.

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