MPs will today debate the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB)

The AWB is set to be abolished if the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill gains Royal Assent in its present form.

 

Labour has tabled the following motion:

That this House notes that the Agricultural Wages Board was set up in 1948 to provide a fair wage and skills structure for agricultural workers; recognises that it is used as a benchmark for other employment in the food industry and that it was the only wages council not to be scrapped in the 1980s; further notes that around a quarter of agricultural workers live in tied accommodation and that casual seasonal workers may move around the country;  regrets that the Welsh Government’s wish to retain the AWB has been ignored by the UK Government; condemns the Government for its abolition of the AWB, which took place after just 4 weeks consultation and will take £260 million out of the rural economy over the next 10 years, lead to a race to the bottom on wages in rural areas, reduce living standards and impoverish rural workers, exacerbating social deprivation and harming social inclusion; further regrets that Honourable Members could not debate this issue as part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill; and calls on the Government to drop its plans to abolish the AWB.

The Twitter hashtag for this afternoon’s debate is #ruralwages

 

Last week, the Government drove through the abolition of the AWB without even a vote in the House of Commons.

 

The AWB protects fair pay levels for 152,000 fruit pickers and farm workers in England and Wales.

 

Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, has made rural wages a key part of Labour’s county council election campaign and is calling on the Government to drop plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.

 

The Government’s impact assessment says that abolishing the pay board will take £260 million out of the rural economy over 10 years through lost holiday and sick pay.

 

Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, said:

 

“The Tory-led Government’s abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board will lead to lower wages for farm workers and take £260 million out of village high streets over ten years. Abolition will lead to a race to the bottom in rural wages, hitting living standards and increasing social deprivation.

 

“David Cameron’s out of touch Government has delivered a bitter blow to the rural economy and to thousands of low-paid farm workers who will be worried about their pay falling. We a need a One Nation plan for the countryside to tackle the rural cost of living crisis, protect buses and public services, and invest in rural jobs and growth.”

 

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