Conference delegates back Labour motion for modernised wages board

A bill to reintroduce protection for wages as well as terms and condition for people working in the rural economy, in the form of a modernised wages board, has been debated by the Labour Party.

At the party's South East regional conference in Crawley last month, delegates from constituencies and affiliated trade unions debated a motion calling on an incoming Labour government to bring forward such a bill. The motion, put forward by Unite and seconded by Horsham Labour Party, received unanimous support.

Unite organiser David Hide said: "Unite warned that the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board would lead to a race to the bottom with employers relying on the National Minimum Wage as the means to set wages in our industry. Our worst fears are now being realised as more and more workers are telling us that since the board's abolition they have not received a pay rise.

"It is crucial that an incoming Labour government introduces a wages council that is charged with setting minimum rates of pay within the rural economy."

Labour MEP candidate Anneliese Dodds is calling for the Agricultural Wages Board to be reintroduced. She said earnings have "stagnated" since its abolition on 25 June 2013.

"Action is needed now to end the scandal of low pay, which is widespread across horticulture," she added.

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