Unite lobbies ministers over Agricultural Wages Board

Abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) will entrench a way of life that many agricultural workers regard as feudal, says Walberton Nursery technical manager David Hide, who was at a Unite rally outside Parliament earlier this month.

He said Defra's consultation process on the abolition, which finished on 12 November, was too short at 30 days and the impetus was coming from the employers and supermarkets at the expense of the incomes of the 150,000 people working on the land.

"Pay and conditions will fall back to minimum wage if the AWB goes," said Hide.

The cost to workers and the rural economy of abolition would be at least £235m over the next 10 years, said Unite. Some 154,000 rural workers' pay, terms and conditions are affected.

But the NFU said the AWB is an anachronism and most farm workers are paid more than minimum wage.

AWB NFU member Derek Jarman said: "There were four consultation questions worded such that the AWB is dead unless you can persuade cash-strapped Government ministers otherwise."

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