Workers’ union Unite has condemned the Government’s decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board.
Farming Minister David Heath confirmed yesterday that the AWB will be scrapped from October 2013, saying it would mean a “single employment regime across all sectors of the economy” and “improve transparency for both employers and workers”.
He said: “It will enable farm businesses to modernise, become more flexible and compete for labour on an equal footing with other local employers.
“This will encourage investment in the industry and increase job opportunities, which will help secure the long-term prosperity of the sector.”
While the decision has been supported by the NFU, there has been criticism from other quarters, with Unite calling it “another cowardly attack on working people”.
General secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “If the case for scrapping the Board, which has served generations of rural workers and their communities, is so compelling, then the Government should publish the evidence.
“Their reluctance to do so suggests that this is another shameful assault on workers for which there is no evidence base.”
Locally, the agri-food sector is said to be worth £1.4BN a year, accounting for 18% of the Duchy’s GDP. It is also said to contribute to 63,700 food-related jobs, almost 30% of all jobs in Cornwall.