As the abolition of the Agriculture Wages Board nears completion the NFU has called on MPs to continue with their support of plans to scrap the out-dated board.
Calling the AWB abolition ‘necessary and correct’, NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said that the time for a wages board was over. “The AWB, while appropriate in the era it was established, has now been superseded by modern-day developments such as the national minimum wage,” he said. “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 21st century industries. “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. Indeed, demand for workers and skills in farming are expected to increase faster than in other areas of the economy. The latest myth to be touted relates to children working on farm. “Simple economics point 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 for all concerned.”