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Farmhand pay threat; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: Nigel Nelson

UP to 150,000 farm workers are to lose guaranteed wages, sick pay and holidays by Christmas.

A pay body which has protected the living standards of those who toil on the land for more than 80 years is being axed.

The scrapping of the Agricultural Wages Board means farmers could deny their labourers pounds 260 a week sick pay, dock three days' annual holiday and give them only the pounds 5.93 an hour minimum wage.

Now farm workers' union Unite is urging MPs to block the move in a vote in October. Labour MPs are already signed up to the campaign and Unite hopes to persuade Lib Dems and Tories to join them.

The present system entitles workers to sick pay after a year, 31 days' holiday a year instead of the national level of 28 and pounds 6.58 an hour for skilled workers. Unite's agriculture chief Cath Speight said: "The end of the Board will mean some farmers will opt for the bare minimum."

But James Potter of the National Farmers Union said: "Farmers should be allowed to operate on the same terms as other employers."

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CHIEF: Ms Speight
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2011
Words:198
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