Farmworkers in Wales are to get a 6 per cent pay rise from February 26 - their first in four years.
The new wage structure follows the signing of the Agricultural Wages (Wales) Order 2016, which introduces revised pay rates for all grades and categories of agricultural workers in Wales currently subject to the minimum pay rates issued by the now abolished Agricultural Wages Board.
Under the new order, workers will receive an average 6 per cent pay increase based on the 2012 minimum pay rates and grade structure.
Announcing the new rates, Food and Farming Deputy Minister, Rebecca Evans, said her intention was to ensure the proper and continued functioning of the Agricultural Minimum Wage regime and introduce minimal disruption to the sector.
“The Agricultural Minimum Wage regime rewards skills and links pay rates to qualifications through a six-grade career structure.
The 2016 Order preserves this structure for standard and flexible workers to encourage up-skilling, career development and the further modernisation and professionalism of the agriculture industry in Wales.
“The 6 per cent pay increase will apply to grades 2 to 6, young workers of compulsory school age, and apprentices.
“Since 2012, the hourly pay of Grade 1 workers has increased in line with increases in the National Minimum Wage, and now this Order will set the Grade 2p above the current National Minimum Wage at £6.72. Grade 1 is regarded as a transitional grade.
“Having a well-trained and well-motivated workforce is key to ensuring the long term viability and success of agriculture in Wales.
“A recent Farmers Guardian survey found that 70 per cent of respondents in England regretted the dissolution of the board there and that 30 per cent had seen their pay fall. In addition, 30 per cent of the respondents said they were considering leaving the industry.
“The Welsh Government is committed to supporting rural communities and ensuring that workers in the agricultural sector receive fair pay.
“Our policy is different to the approach taken by the UK Government where the decision was taken to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales despite our views on the matter.”
Mrs Evans added that the 2016 order was intended to be an interim measure only and would be revised once the soon-to-be-formed Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales was established.
That is expected to be fully operational by the spring and have a remit to consider all matters related to employment, skills and career development.
The new pay rates from February 26 will be: