Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
Yesterday, I signed The Agricultural Wages (Wales) Order 2017. This is the second wages Order made under the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Act 2014 and the first wages order made on the basis of recommendations from the independent Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales, formed in April 2016.
The retention of the Agricultural Minimum Wage regime, following the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, represents a significant step by the Welsh Government in supporting low paid agricultural workers in Wales.
This government’s decision to maintain the regime reflects our wider policy objectives linked to tackling poverty and the main goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. The statutory regime, which safeguards minimum pay levels, operates a six-grade pay and career structure, with the capacity to improve employment conditions, encourage up-skilling and facilitate the entry of young entrants into agriculture. It supports the effective functioning of the agriculture industry in Wales.
The new rates were proposed by the members of the Agricultural Advisory Panel and will increase wages to all grades and categories of workers. Grades 3 to 6 will receive a 1.2% rise in comparison to the 2016 wage levels, while Grade 2 workers’ hourly rate will be set at £7.54. Grade 1 workers wages will be set above the new National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, depending on the age of the worker.
The provisions of the new order will apply from today and be backdated to 1 April 2017, in line with the recommendations of the Agricultural Advisory Panel.
I am grateful to the Panel and its Chair, Lionel Walford, for their considerable efforts in bringing the new wages order forward.
Supporting rural communities and ensuring workers in the agricultural sector receive fair pay, which reflects the importance of the contribution agriculture makes to our economy our environment and to our rural communities, is a key objective of this government and crucial to the further development of a prosperous, resilient and more equal Wales. This order supports my commitment to the long term viability and success of the agricultural industry in Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.