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Corbyn vows to reinstate Agricultural Wages Board to raise pay in the countryside

Labour will boost the pay of rural workers, Jeremy Corbyn tells Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival today.

Labour will boost the pay of rural workers by reinstating an Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) for English workers, the Labour leader will say at the labour movement festival, which marks the deportation of six agricultural workers for organising for better pay in the 1830s and the successful campaign that saw them freed and pardoned.

After Brexit a Labour government will reinstate the Board abolished in 2013 at an estimated cost of £149 million to the wages of rural workers, Mr Corbyn is to say.

A reinstated AWB for English workers will ensure rural workers are entitled to minimum rates of pay which may be higher than the National Minimum Wage, paid holiday, sick pay and rest breaks.

Alongside other Labour policies, including free bus travel for under-25s – linked to councils taking bus services under public ownership or introducing franchising models – and guaranteeing full employment rights for all workers from day one, Labour believes the reintroduced AWB will be a major step towards reducing rising inequality in rural economies and across Britain.

Reinstating the Board, which was originally established by Clement Attlee’s Labour government in 1948, forms part of Labour’s plan to raise workers’ wages by restoring sectoral collective bargaining.

“Almost 200 years after the Tolpuddle Martyrs bravely stood against the exploitation of employers paying poverty wages, Labour is committed to reintroducing the Agricultural Wages Board and increasing pay and fundamental rights for all agricultural workers.

“This decision will bring back millions of pounds to workers across the English countryside, in addition to guaranteed paid holiday, sick pay, and rest breaks.

“Rural workers have been consistently ignored by the Tories. The south-west is the low pay capital of the UK. Here, and across the English countryside, agricultural workers have been abandoned by the shameful decision to scrap the Agricultural Wages Board.

“The struggle of the Tolpuddle Martyrs sowed the seed for the modern trade union movement and the Labour Party itself. The best way to honour that noble struggle is not just to remember why it took place, but to secure in our time what those workers fought for: the right to fair pay and decent working conditions.”




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