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14 April 2010
Unite, the UK’s biggest trade union, today (Wednesday 14th April) warns that under a Tory government rural and agricultural workers could face poverty.
David Cameron yesterday (Tuesday 13th April) launched his manifesto for the general election. One of his pledges was abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).
The AWB is an independent body set up to fix minimum wages for workers employed in agriculture in England and Wales. It protects some of the lowest paid workers in the country from poverty wages.
Ian Waddell, Unite national officer for rural and agricultural workers, said: “The AWB brings together trade unions, employers and independent experts to regulate pay and terms and conditions across the agricultural industry. It sets a benchmark for tens of thousands of workers who operate in isolated areas, often alone or in small teams. Such workers would not be able to negotiate for themselves and abolition of the AWB would result in a race to the bottom as unscrupulous employers sought to undermine agreed rates.
“Neither the employers nor the employees want abolition. This would be free market dogma being imposed in a situation which needs regulation to avoid abuse and exploitation."