Two unions clash on Agricultural Wages Board and the minimum wage

Unite and the NFU are set to clash again at a meeting today over the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB), after Defra minister Jim Paice urged the board not to waste money by entering into another negotiation.

Paice confirmed that the AWB should be abolished by 1 October 2012, in a letter to its chairman Derek Evans. Until then, he said there was no obligation to fix a new minimum agricultural wage rate and "it would seem prudent for the board to consider the introduction of legislation that would provide for the end of the agricultural minimum wage scheme."

But Unite union representative Ian Waddell said it would be a "dereliction of duty" not to negotiate to stop what would be "effectively a pay freeze" for workers. He added that "we have a legal obligation to uphold the duties the board was set up to carry out".

The AWB will meet on 10 December. Waddell said the NFU and Unite positions were predictable but the five independent members would be "the key to this".

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