Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (24th April 2013) argued that the abolishment of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) is ‘part of a race to the bottom over pay and fair treatment when the Government should be raising standards for farm workers’.
The AWB protects pay and conditions for 152,000 farm workers in England and Wales and it used as a benchmark for others employed in the food industry. 170 of those workers are in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.
“Last week the Government denied the House of Commons the chance to even debate this decision and it is only through the use of Labour’s Opposition Day debate that MPs are getting the chance to voice their concerns.
“The abolition of the AWB will save virtually nothing but simply demonstrates the Tory-led Government’s failure to protect people who work in the countryside. The Government should be helping rural families deal with rising living costs, not engaging in a race to the bottom in pay and conditions.
“Food production is Britain’s biggest manufacturing industry. This cut will affect a lot of hard working agricultural workers across my constituency, and will undoubtedly have a knock on impact for the high streets of our rural villages and towns. Labour believes that the people who grow our food should also be able to afford to buy it in the shops.”