NFU backs abolition of "obsolete" wages board as Defra opens consultation period

The NFU has welcomed the launch of Defra's consultation on the future of the Agricultural Wages Board as a step towards its abolition.

Meurig Raymond - image: HW
Meurig Raymond - image: HW

The union maintains that few farm workers are currently receiving only the board's minimum wage, while average farm worker earnings stand at 41 per cent above board minimums.

Deputy president Meurig Raymond described the wages board as "an artefact of an era of industrial relations which has now been superseded by changes in wider employment legislation, not least the introduction of a national minimum wage in 1999".

Raymond added: "Farmers pay competitive rates to attract and retain skills, just like any other business, and simplification must be the order of the day."

The NFU will in future provide farmers with data on labour markets, cost of living changes and comparative industries, in order to help facilitate pay settlements, he said.

The NFU's comments echo those of HTA policy manager Gary Scroby who said earlier this week: "We have long argued that the sector should fall in line with the rest of the economy and adopt modern employment legislation provided by the National Minimum Wage Act and the Working Time Regulations.

"Removing the AWB will reduce bureaucracy and help UK growers remain competitive in an increasingly challenging market place. We are therefore pleased that this consultation has been launched, and look forward to the AWB’s abolition as soon as possible."

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