Farm Workers Tell Pay Board -
Farm workers demonstrating (NUAW) outside the Ministry of Agriculture in London yesterday as union officials submitted their claim for an £18 minimum for a 40-hour week.
But at the two-hour meeting the employers and Government appointed members of the board voted down the claim. Agricultural workers' (NAWU) general secretary Reg Bottini said afterwards: "There will be widespread dismay among farm workers."
Mr. Bottini said that the 320,000 farm workers were just as much a "special case" as the miners.
He told the Agricultural Wages Board that farm earnings were an average £10 a week
lower than the industrial were on a 42-hour week, not a 40-hour week.
"Our claim that farm workers are a special case is not new. We have been saying it for years and have been virtually ignored, despite the public sympathy for workers whose vital job is highly skilled, tough and often dangerous."
The demonstrators said that the last award of an extra £1.40 had left many of them only 45p better off because at the same time farmers had been allowed a 66 per cent increase in rents on agricultural workers' cottages.
They pointed out that British agriculture was now producing more tlian it had been in 1948 when there were over a million farm workers. The industry's total wage bill had gone down in the last 25 years although its growth rate was over 8 per cent.
Agriculture is one of the few industries in which workers in England and Wales are earning less than their Scottish counter-parts.
Morning Star February 24th 1972