"Unseemly haste" to abolish wages board could be unlawful, Unite warns PM

The Unite union's general secretary Len McCluskey has written to prime minister David Cameron warning that the consultation on the future of Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) is failing to include the views of those most affected by it.

Len McCluskey - image:Unite
Len McCluskey - image:Unite

McCluskey said that the current four-week consultation period, which ends on Monday 12 November, should be extended to 21 January, to give time for all interested organisations to make the case for the AWB’s retention.

He warned: "Our legal advisers are reviewing the extent to which the government’s approach to this consultation has been lawful."

The union claims that 150,000 workers rely on the AWB for a "decent income", and that without it, they would lose some £140 million in wages. Devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have committed to keeping AWBs.

McCluskey said: "Concerns have been expressed to Unite by some civil society groups that their views have not been sought and that the consultees draw heavily from the large employers and retailers. For instance, why are the views of the agricultural colleges not being sought?"

He added that the "digital by default" nature of such exercises limited the ability of rural individuals and groups to participate.

Both the NFU and the HTA have backed the move to abolish the AWB since the consultation began last month.

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