AGRICULTURE Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA has announced a Review of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) structure. The AWB sets minimum rates of pay and conditions for workers in the agriculture and horticulture sectors, including a large proportion of migrant workers.
Making her announcement, the Minister said: “The Agricultural Wages Board structure here was last reviewed in 2005 and, in line with good business practice, a review is now timely. I firmly believe that the AWB structure is a valuable forum for wage negotiations and importantly is used as a benchmark for the wider agri-food industry and other rural occupations.
“It continues to protect the rights of low paid agricultural workers here. However, I welcome the views of individuals or organisations on the future of the AWB at this time. The options for consideration are retention of the existing structure or complete abolition.”
In conclusion she added: “As we try to grow the economic potential of the agri-food sector in the time ahead, it is essential that workers in this industry are protected to not only help the sector flourish but encourage others to consider a career within it. The consulation on the AWB’s future is open to submission until close of play on the 25 January 2012, I would ask anyone with an interest to put forward their views to my department before the closing date.”
All comments or suggestions concerning the future of the Agricultural Wages Board should be forwarded to DARD Farm Policy Branch, Room 910, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Ballymiscaw, Belfast BT4 3SB (Tel: 028 9052 0813 or Fax: 028 9052 4266), or email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25 January 2012.
An Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out to determine the extent of differential impact upon the relevant Section 75 groups. A consultation document and Equality Impact Assessment document are being forwarded to interested parties in the industry and groups under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Both documents are available on the Department’s website at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/active-consultations.htm or can be sent on request.