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2 January 2013
Farm workers, angry at the continued onslaught to their living standards, will be protesting at an Oxford conference tomorrow being addressed by Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The workers - still smarting from the pre-Christmas announcement that the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) will be abolished this year - will be demonstrating outside the Oxford Farming Conference.
The protestors will assemble at 8.00am tomorrow (Thursday) – the minister is due to speak at 9.00am. The conference is taking place at the Examination Halls, High Street, Oxford.
Unite national officer for agriculture, Julia Long said: “The Oxford demonstration is designed to show Owen Paterson that agricultural workers are very angry at what they see as a sustained attack on their living standards by a government that has sold out to the interests of agri-business.
“The announcement of the AWB's scrapping in England and Wales, sneaked out just before Christmas, will hit the incomes of 140,000 agricultural workers, destroying a protection that they have enjoyed since the First World War.
“This is the shabby benchmark of the coalition government.”
Unite, the country's biggest union, had campaigned against the AWB's abolition, following a hasty consultation period on its future. The union said that the majority of responses to the government's consultation were in favour of retention.
In its consultation submission, Unite had argued that supermarkets and the growers, who supply them, were behind moves to abolish the AWB in order to cut labour costs.