Farm workers in England and Wales will see their wage rates increase by 4.5% from October 2007 in a deal which will add about £50m to the wage bill of employers.

The Agricultural Wages Board met in London on 15 and 16 May to hammer out this year’s pay deal.

It has been agreed that Grades 2-6 will get a pay increase of 4.5% while Grade 1 workers (basic trainees) will get an increase of 3.2%.

The Transport and General Workers Union, which negotiates on behalf of employers, had been looking for an across the board increase of 6%.

But the NFU, which represents employers, had argued this was too high when compared with pay increases being offered in other parts of the economy.

The new rates will be as follows:

Grade 1 – basic trainee – £5.52/hr
Grade 2 – standard worker – £6.00/hr
Grade 3 – lead worker – £6.60/hr
Grade 4 – craft worker – £7.08/hr
Grade 5 – supervisory grade – £7.50/hr
Grade 6 – farm management grade – £8.10/hr

Carmen Suarez, NFU chief economist, said the final agreement was a “mixed bag”.

The NFU was pleased that some of the extras that the T&G had asked for, like an increase in holiday entitlements, had been rejected.

But the union was disappointed that the final package had been voted in by the independents on the board rather than the two main negotiating parties.

“We feel it does not fully reflect what is going on elsewhere in the economy and the general state of the farming sector,” she said.

“But the decision was taken at a time of relatively high inflation which has informed the decision of the independents.”