Farming groups have said government plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) from October 2013 are 'right and proper'.The board, which sets the minimum wages and conditions for agricultural workers, is due to be disbanded by Defra. Plans were drawn up by a statutory panel announced by the government in July 2010.Confirmation to close down the board was included in a Bill in Parliament yesterday."[the AWB] has become increasingly obsolete, generating an additional administrative burden and forcing a one-size-fits-all approach on the industry" the NFU said."Farming today is very different from what it was when the AWB was first set up more than 60 years ago" said CLA President Harry Cotterell."The current system has become outdated and is no longer relevant to the structure of modern-day agriculture."But critics say abolishing the panel will increase rural poverty and jeopardise the conditions of agricultural workers.
"The AWB, while appropriate in the era it was established, has now been superseded by modern-day developments such as the national minimum wage, leaving agriculture totally out of step with the rest of the UK workforce" said NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond."This makes the decision to abolish it right and proper, and will bring agriculture alongside other modern-day industries."
"While we understand the changes need parliamentary approval, we welcome the intention to see the agricultural minimum wages regime abolished from October 2013, therefore ruling out a further round of wage negotiations. However, this does mean that members should comply with the order until that time, to ensure they continue to operate within the law."
"For the NFU, the next phase of work begins. We have committed to provide information and guidance to the industry to support wage negotiations between individual businesses and their workers in the future. We’ll be working with our members and stakeholders in the new year to progress this pledge."