HC Deb 06 June 1924 vol 174 cc1593-5

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has any information showing which are the countries in Europe where wages of agricultural workers are regulated; and will he state Whether it is by the State, and what the regulated wages are?


In a number of countries in Europe the wages of agricultural workers are regulated under some system of State control. In Hungary and Esthonia the machinery appears to resemble the Trade Board system in existence in this country. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT such particulars with regard to the various countries as are in my possession. I have no definite information as to the current rates of wages.

The following is a summary of such information with regard to the regulation of agricultural wages in Europe as are in the possession of my Department:

The particulars have been collected from various sources, and must not be taken as necessarily complete.

Austria—In the absence of collective or individual wage contracts, wages must not be less than permanent statutory minima fixed by law.

Belgium.—Individual bargaining is the general rule, with provision for appeal to boards of arbitrators. In certain provinces, the decisions of the arbitration boards have force of law.

Czechslovakia.—Collective agreements (which must be registered with the State Labour Department) must be based on a scheme of labour conditions and scale of wages drawn up annually by the Agricultural Department of the Ministry of Labour. Disputes are referred to joint committees and, if necessary, to arbitration courts.

Denmark.—Wages boards consisting of three conciliators are charged witch the duty of administering agreements reached between employers' and workers' organisations. In the event of a dispute the matter is referred to the Permanent Arbitration Court, whose findings have the force of law.

Esthonia. —Provincial Joint Committees meet every year for the purpose of considering minimum rates of wages and the hours of work, their proposals being submitted to the Ministry of Labour, which communicates them to the National Joint Committee. The National Committee examines and co-ordinates the proposals of the provincial committees, which are then, if approved by the Ministry of Labour, published, and assume the force of law.

France.—As in Belgium, individual bargaining prevails throughout the country. Conciliation committees act in cases of dispute.

Germany.—Conciliation boards exist to solve difficulties arising out of collective agreements.

Hungary.—Under an Act passed last year, a system is to be established for the fixing of agricultural wages by district committees (comprising representatives of both sides, and an independent president and vice-president). The rates fixed will be enforcible by law. Pending organisation of the new system, the Act empowers the Minister of Agriculture to fix a minimum rate for 1923 and 1924.

Italy.—Conciliation committees are believed to exist for the settlement of disputes.

Netherlands.—Provision is made for conciliation in cases of disputes affecting 50 or more workers.

Norway.—Settlement of disputes rests with industrial courts.

Poland.—Disputes arising out of collective agreements are dealt with by joint conciliation and arbitration committees. As a temporary measure, a special arbitration Board was set up in 1921 with power to fix wages and working conditions of agricultural labour, and this Board has continued to function up to the present

Sweden.—Machinery has been established for arranging of collective agreements. Any disputes are referred to a central arbitration court, whose decisions are en forcible by the organisations concerned.