CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has warned plans set out by the UK Government to cut the wages of agricultural workers in North Wales will increase rural poverty in the area.
The UK Government has begun a consultation on scrapping the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) in England and Wales. The board sets the pay and conditions of more than 13,000 Welsh farm workers.
The UK Government said on Tuesday the Welsh Government does not have the power to block the decision.
CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES, said:
“The decision to go ahead with plans to scrap the agricultural wages board is an absolute disgrace. It will mean the income of some of the lowest paid agricultural workers in North Wales being cut, making the problem of rural poverty even worse.
“What’s almost as shocking is that there was no consultation with the Welsh Government on this consultation. Agriculture is devolved to Wales and wages control should have been something the UK Government discussed with the Assembly.
“The board helps protect many agricultural workers who work alone or in small isolated teams and who are not in a position to negotiate for themselves. Farm workers could lose upwards of £250 a week in sick pay if the statutory floor of protection is removed.
“Its abolition will remove a framework that helps sustain a more sustainable form of farming in North Wales, particularly in attracting the future workforce and supporting skills and training.
“This is a cowardly and retrograde step that picks on some of the most vulnerable workers in North Wales and damages the industry as a whole.”
Established after World War II, the board is an independent body that sets the wages of agricultural workers in England and Wales.