Protest over plan to axe wages board

Agricultural workers are set to protest outside Westminster over plans to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.

The workers hope to influence MPs who are set to vote in parliament on whether to slash a number of quangos, including the AWB and the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC).

Workers’ union Unite said the vote on Tuesday (25 October) could see more than 150,000 workers face diminishing pay and conditions if it was decided the board should be abolished.

It said the plans to close the AWB showed the government was out of touch with the countryside.

“Many of our members have already been told by employers that should the AWB be abolished, their wages will be forced down, said Unite national officer Cath Speight.

“This is unacceptable and we can not allow this to happen.

“During this present climate, where people are worried about food production, food security and food supplies, it is astonishing that this government has chosen to attack the very workers who we rely on to maintain supplies and production.”

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said scrapping the AWB and the CRC would leave rural communities and workers without a champion.

“The Government should be supporting rural families and businesses, by rolling out broadband for rural communities to create jobs.

“Instead, they are abolishing the independent voice for rural communities and scrapping the agricultural wages board.”

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Andrew George also called on MPs to save the CRC, claiming it voiced the needs of the countryside within government.

“Though we can tolerate bringing in-house the admin of Government grants with the work of the CRC, the maintenance of an independent rural advocate could prove crucial as the austerity measures hit,” he said.

“You can’t claim that we’re all in it together if rural folk are out of sight, out of mind.”