Weekend protests at threat to Agricultural Wages Board

Weekend protests at threat to Agricultural Wages Board

31 January 2013

Unite members are staging two protests this weekend – outside posh people’s hotel, the Savoy and at the Somerset constituency ‘surgery’ of the farm minister – to ratchet up the pressure to save the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).

Unite members will protesting at the Fresh Produce Consortium annual dinner outside the Savoy Hotel, The Strand, London WC2R 0EU at 5pm - 6.30pm, Saturday 2 February 2013.

Earlier in the day, Unite members will be protesting outside the ‘surgery’ of David Heath, the Liberal Democrat minister for agriculture and food, in Frome, Somerset. The minister is responsible for driving through the proposed abolition of the AWB, having previously expressed support for it.

Unite members will be assembling at 9.45am on Saturday in the public car park next to the Frome library where David Heath holds his constituency surgery.

Unite is campaigning strongly to save the AWB, which has protected the incomes of 150,000 of agricultural workers in England and Wales since the Second World War – and has hailed two recent successes in the campaign.

This week’s move by the Welsh Assembly to reject a legislative motion that would have set the foundation for the UK government’s abolition of the AWB, follows the House of Lords putting a brake on the government’s plans to scrap the board.

Unite is targeting the Fresh Produce Consortium, which represents growers and the horticultural industry. The consortium, whose members include Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrison’s and Tesco, supports the abolition of the AWB.

Unite said these supermarkets want to nail down agricultural wages to poverty levels to boost their already handsome profits. 

Unite national officer for agriculture Julia Long said: “The campaign has gained great momentum recently and this weekend’s protests are aimed at driving home the message that agricultural workers won’t have their incomes reduced to poverty-levels.

“David Heath has reneged on his previous position of supporting the AWB to do the bidding of the major supermarkets whose executives will be living it up at the Savoy, as they discuss how to impoverish those working on the land in all weathers.”

Unite has said that 60 per cent of responses to the government’s recent consultation were in favour of retention. In its own submission, Unite had argued that supermarkets and the growers, who supply them, were behind moves to abolish the AWB.


For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.