agricultural labourer defined in 1939 yearagricultural labourer - Agricultural Labourer;
agricultural labourer - One who works on the land for weekly wages. According to estimates there were 740,500 agricultural labourers in England and Wales in 1944, the number having risen from 649,600 in 1941. In 1931 there were 635,493.
Owing to low wages, Bad housing, long hours of labour, and a general lack of the amenities of life, and to the facts that they had no proprietary interest in the soil and no prospects of material advancement, agricultural labourers for long were regarded as the poorest and most depressed class in the social system. They alone had little or no share in the great social advances of the 19th century. According to an official return issued in 1910 their average wages were then only 17s. 6d. a week, 14s. 6d. in cash and the balance in kind.
One remedy for these ills, the formation of a strong trade union of agricultural labourers, was unsuccessful in the 19th century. The prospective members were isolated, poor, and timid; moreover, conditions varied greatly in different districts. One such union broke up in 1872 through the pressure of adverse circumstances. However, there was a revival of agricultural trade unionism in 1906. Though the total income for the first full year was only Â£166, the figure had risen to Â£87,000 in 1943, when the union claimed 2,100 branches. The union is represented on all public bodies connected with agriculture, and hundreds of its members serve on parish, district, and county councils. Its aim is to establish the right of the farm worker to a standard of life equal to that of other workers.
Meanwhile various schemes of improvement have been put forward by politicians and social reformers. The Corn Production Act of 1917 established an Agricultural Wages Board by which wages are fixed. This board is a department of the ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The wages vary slightly from county to county. In 1939 the average minimum for England and Wales was 35s. a week, but during the war years this rose stage by stage to an average of 70s. a week in 1945.
near agricultural labourer in Knolik
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