'Final pay rise for farm work' as Agricultural Wages Board goes
Almost 25,000 farm workers in the South West yesterday got what may be their final pay rise before their wages board is scrapped, Mary Creagh said yesterday.
The Shadow Environment Secretary said rural pay will sink when the Government finally axes the Agricultural Wages Board, which has for 64 years set wages for 150,000 agriculture workers in England and Wales.
Former Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said the world had moved on and the market should decide pay as in other industries – but insisted it was “not some secretive plot to drive down wages”.
But yesterday, Ms Creagh voiced her concern for rural communities, adding that, despite the Tories and Liberal Democrats voting to abolish the AWB, they had still not managed to get rid of it.
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That meant more than 150,000 farm workers, fruit pickers and food packers across England and Wales would get a pay rise.
“Next year, if the Tories have their way, they won’t. And when the AWB goes, rural wages, over time, will sink to the legal minimum.
Government assessments shows that the rural High Street will lose £9 million as those workers lose their sick pay and holiday pay.
From yesterday, hourly pay ranges from £3.11 an hour for children to £9.40 for grade 6 workers.