New Bottle – Same Old Wine

After a short break and probably a little bit of reinforcing of the ranks, the G Group are back in business with yet another name. I would have thought they would at least have found a name that was easy to pronounce or mean something. Nevertheless, I suppose thanks to the Tow Show they have now had a chance to rustle up a bit of extra support but, bearing in mind I use Professional Recovery for my source of information, I still don’t see anything, and I mean anything (nothing) that this group are planning to do for my business and that would mean a few hundred others like me.

Furthermore, their demeanor reminds me of Gordon Brown’s Labour Party hypes with all their spin and fancy words.

I therefore do not understand how this group can say they are representing a united industry.

I can certainly see how they can easily talk to the work providers because they are a group that would want to be seen to be associated with one outlet but while they are probably easy to meet and talk to we all know they are a hard chestnut when it comes to getting even the slightest contract concession for a Recovery Operator, not to mention a slight increase in rates. One thing is for sure, if the work providers – our paymasters – do not like what they hear from ERRI they will just bypass them and do what they want with their contractors which, I am afraid, is their right and entitlement whether we like it or not.

When it comes to this sort of thing, would we not be better off being represented by the likes of Arthur Scargill or Bob Crow. As much as I dislike these sort of people they know how to look after their members; they know how to get better terms and conditions; more pay and better holidays.

Is this something that this new group will be trying to do for us? To be fair, I think they would like to but are not going to progress.

I therefore ask what is the agenda of the ERRI and, to break it down even further, look at the agenda of the individuals involved. Perhaps a couple of the main players do share a passion for the industry; another two or three it is probably their ego; and for the rest it is how much money can they make from it. Just to give you a clue, I don’t think Brian Hagan is in it for the money, or the RVI for their ego.

I was quite shocked to read, to quote: “We must embrace European legislation.” Even David Cameron said we must resist any more European legislation (or something very similar).

I see reference to “WE MUST” start working shifts. This shows a certain naivety as to what the ordinary operator is looking for. It is certainly not unnecessary legislation and a compulsory shift system in a business that only does a sprinkling of jobs after hours.

It is worth bearing in mind that if it wasn’t for the poor rate paid per job (little different from 10 years ago) there is not a lot wrong with our industry. The Operators themselves have moved the image forward and are continuing to do so. So in some ways it is going to be difficult for this Group to come up with something new and innovative. Red lights, bus lanes and hard shoulders are, to be fair, only tinkering on the fringe and if this is the best that can be offered to trade off some new rules and regulations, it doesn’t strike me as a good show. In Tyne and Wear breakdown trucks can run in many of the bus lanes already.

I repeat once again, I am not against legislation but it should be Government legislation which then applies to every single person and company and not just those that have fallen foul of self-regulation and the greedy vultures that police it. Government legislation usually costs very little to initially conform to; the price comes when you break the law. So this means people generally conform to the regulation day in and day out without transgressing, whereas self-regulation is usually putting everything right for an inspection, paying your bounty and then hoping nobody comes back for a year. In the meantime, who cares what you do.

I don’t understand the need for an ‘R’ licence, but if it is run by VOSA the same as an ‘O’ licence I would expect to
have no problem, but if it is another self-regulatory thing, I am out.

I have heard it said that we should have a disc like a taxi to prove credibility. Surely our customers are not flocks of drunken teenage girls at 2 o’clock in the morning; they are people who will call a Breakdown Service based on its reputation. There are many other businesses that the customers need protecting from and at this stage it is not our industry.

I have changed direction slightly in that I think now is the time for the three organisations that left the group to rejoin in order to get a better balance and do some cranking from the inside, because these groups, especially RRRA, have more operators like me. But remember, this ERRI group won’t represent the industry unless it makes more effort to cater for all operators especially the medium and small ones.

Fred Henderson,
Breakdown Doctor,
Durham City.

Fred Hendersons opinions are not necessarily the opinions of Recovery World.