Farmworkers in Wales to get 6% pay rise by end of year

Farmworkers in Wales are set to receive a 6% pay rise by the end of the year, following the introduction of an Interim Agricultural Wages Order for Wales.

The move will see the first pay rise in three years, after the Agricultural Wages Board was abolished in 2012.

The new order, which is hoped to be in place by the end of 2015, represents an annual wage increase of 2% between 2012 and 2015.

Workers on Grade 1 pay – the lowest pay grade – will be paid 2p above the current national minimum wage of £6.70. This will apply to all workers over the age of 16.

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Wages for people on other grades will be specified above the currently proposed national living wage, which is due to take over from the national minimum wage on 1 April 2016 for people aged 25 and over.  

Since the government abolished the Agricultural Wages Board in 2013, the government in Wales has set minimum wages for farmworkers under the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Act 2014.

The new order will be an interim measure, until a new advisory panel is set up to discuss pay, skills and career development. 

Deputy farming minister Rebecca Evans said the panel should be fully operational by early 2016.

Ms Evans said she hoped the interim measure would ensure fair wages, combat a skills and labour shortage and offer young workers a more attractive career path in agriculture.

See also: Welsh consider new laws to protect farm wages

The national living wage will apply to all workers over the age of 25, including those on Grade 1 rates, said Ms Evans.

However, most workers in agriculture are employed at Grade 2 level.

 NFU Cymru president Stephen James called on the government to communicate the changes to farmers.

“It is now up to the Welsh government to do what it can to raise awareness of the legislative changes, so farmers in Wales who employ staff in agriculture do not inadvertently fall foul of the law,” he said.

A Farmers’ Union of Wales spokesman added: “Although we would rather have retained the Agricultural Wages Board than find ourselves in the position we are currently in, we nevertheless look forward to taking our place on the new Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales and to ensuring Welsh agriculture is granted the status it deserves in terms of agricultural wages and skills.

“We hope that, once established, the panel will be able to quickly assess the needs of the industry and replace the interim order with one based upon a careful assessment of those needs.”