Farm worker wages to rise by up to 2.8%

Minimum wages for farm workers are to rise by up to 2.8% after an agreement was reached at the annual Agricultural Wages Board negotiations.

The board met on 11-12 June for the negotiations between the NFU, Unite union members and independent panellists.

Pay for Grade 1 workers, over compulsory school age, will increase by 1.8%, from £6.10 to £6.21 a hour.

Grades 2-6 will see a bigger increase of 2.8%.

Pay grade rises:

  • Grade 2 from £6.77 to £6.96 a hour

  • Grade 3 from £7.45 to £7.66 a hour

  • Grade 4 from £7.99 to £8.21 a hour

  • Grade 5 from £8.46 to £8.70 a hour

  • Grade 6 from £9.14 to £9.40 a hour

But apprentices in year one of an apprenticeship/advanced apprenticeship will not receive any rise. Rates in this category will remain at £3.57 a hour. Pay rates for apprentices in year two will also stay the same at £3.68 for 16-17-year-olds, and £4.98 for 18-20-year olds. For those aged 21 and over, the rate will increase from £6.08 to £6.19 a hour.

The pay rises will come into force on Monday, 1 October 2012.

The conclusion of the negotiations may mark the end of an era. The wages board faces the axe under the coalition government’s drive to cut back on the number of public bodies, which means this could be the last time it will convene to set pay levels.

A DEFRA spokesman said the abolition would modernise the way wages were set in agriculture.

“Agricultural wages laws are more than 60 years out of date, difficult to understand and entirely out of step with modern work practices.

“Changing them would free numerous small farmers from unnecessary burdens, while keeping farm workers, like all other workers across the economy, well protected by national minimum wage legislation,” the spokesman said.

However, the timetable under which the board will be removed is still to be decided. An announcement is expected soon, the spokesman said.

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