The Unite union demanded today that the government come clean on how it mades its decision to axe the Agricultural Wages Board in 2013.
It has been fighting tooth and nail to save the board and said scrapping it would pull the rug out from under the wages of 140,000 agricultural workers in England and Wales.
Even the government admits that it will take £240 million out of the pockets of farm workers and rural communities over the next decade.
Unite called it a "cowardly attack" on working people and said most of the responses to the government's consultation argued in favour of keeping the board.
The union said it was supermarkets and big farm firms who were pushing for the board to be scrapped in order to lower their labour costs.
General secretary Len McCluskey said if the case for ditching the board was so strong then the coalition should immediately publish the evidence.
"Over the border in Scotland, rural workers will still have their board to protect them.
"Why does this government not similarly value the rural workers of England and Wales?"
The Agricultural Wages Board was established early in the last century to ensure that rural workers could earn a near living wage and had some measure of housing security.
Labour's shadow farming minister Huw Irranca-Davies said: "It is typical that the government sneaked out this announcement just hours before Parliament shuts down for Christmas."
He said the Con-Dems had ignored "strong views" against abolition, including the arguments of the Welsh government.
Mike Walker of Country Standard said: "The board acted as benchmark for many rural workers' jobs and was a de facto rural living wage."
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