Farmers Urge Lords to 'See Sense' over Wages Board

UK - With the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) abolition process continuing its way through the House of Lords, the NFU has reiterated that abolition is necessary and correct.
calendar icon 7 March 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Peers will vote this week as part of the Department for Business Industry and Skill’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill’s report stage.

NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “The AWB, while appropriate in the era it was established, has now been superseded by modern-day developments such as the national minimum wage.

"Agriculture is the last remaining industry to have a wages board, leaving it totally out of step with the rest of the UK workforce, including others in the rural economy. This makes the decision to abolish it right and proper, and will bring agriculture alongside other modern-day industries.

“The NFU has consistently called for the abolition of the AWB, which has become increasingly obsolete and generating an additional administrative burden. In particular, forcing a one-size-fits-all approach on the industry is unquestionably out of step for a farming industry that has seen increasingly significant variation in fortunes across sectors and across regions.

“It is disappointing that scaremongering about the impact of the AWB abolition continues from some quarters. In reality, the vast majority of farmers and workers are already negotiating their own agreements over and above the minimum terms and conditions set out in the Agricultural Wages Order.

"Market dynamics already dictate pay rates and this would continue after abolition. Indeed, demand for workers and skills in farming are expected to increase faster than in other areas of the economy.

“Simple economics points to higher rather than lower wages in the long term. When adding in the savings to the public purse that abolition will deliver to the increased flexibility that AWB abolition will allow for both workers and farmers, it is clear that intervention in the farm labour market is no longer justified or beneficial.

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