17 July 2014
The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Welsh National Assembly’s bill to protect low paid agricultural workers by setting up an Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) for Wales is lawful.
UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve had argued that the Agricultural Wages (Wales) Bill was an issue of employment law, which is not a devolved issue, rather than agriculture. However, senior judges unanimously concluded that the decision falls within the powers of the Welsh Assembly.
Mick Antoniw, the Assembly Minister leading the campaign to preserve the AWB, said that in trying to block the legistation, the Coalition has once again “demonstrated its enthusiasm for cosying up to the big land-owners at the expense of those in society who are least able to defend themselves”.
The ruling means that agricultural workers in Wales will regain a level of protection they had lost following the UK Government’s decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales in 2013.
The abolition of the AWB by the Coalition government meant the end of over 60 years pay and conditions protection for 140,000 agricultural workers in England and Wales. It was the last surviving wages council.
As John Hendy QC points out, there is an “urgent need” for greater collective bargaining in the UK. This development in Wales is a significant and encouraging step.
To find out more, read our ten point manifesto and share our infographic on the virtuous circle of collective bargaining
The full publication, Reconstruction After the Crisis: A Manifesto for Collective Bargaining is available for purchase.