Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to bring back the Agricultural Wages Board in an attempt to improve the pay and conditions of farmers, five years after it was abolished by the coalition government.
Corbyn announced the policy at the the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset, and said that the reintroduction of the Board would allow farm and rural workers to be “properly paid”.
He said an estimated £160m has been lost in wages since the body’s abolition and that the new board would ensure that rural workers in England would be entitled to minimum rates of pay, which may be higher than the National Minimum Wage, and to paid holiday, sick pay and rest breaks.
Corbyn said: “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.”