To stay or not to stay...

21st of June 2016 Article by Lynn Webster
To stay or not to stay...

ECJ UK blogger Lynn Webster looks ahead to the EU referendum in the UK, which takes place this Thursday.

On June 23 registered voters of the UK will finally give their response to the question that has dominated the airwaves, newspapers and everyday conversation for what sometimes seems like an eternity: “Should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave it?” It is difficult to believe that the official start of campaigning was set as April 15 2016. If what we have been seeing and hearing for more than six months hasn’t been campaigning then it will be interesting to see what is. Providing some much needed clarity, perhaps?

Figures relating to financial and job-related impact of remaining within or exiting the EU are continually bandied about. Jobs will be lost/unaffected/created. Profits will decline/improve. Businesses will grow/disappear/hardly notice. There is no definitive answer on the length of time it would/will take to fully exit, guesstimates ranging from several months to a decade.

Cleaning and facilities industry bodies like many others are grappling with how to respond, deciding whether to get behind one position against the other, or finding ways to present available information to members in as unbiased a manner as possible. We’ve already begun to see the collateral damage. Trying to answer the (considerably more than) million-pound question is not being made any easier by the amount of conflicting information presented to us on a 24/7 basis.

The areas for consideration by individuals within the cleaning and facilities sector are too many to go into here. However there are a few at the forefront of current debate, or argument: the situation, financial and otherwise, for non-exporting SMEs working within an EU regulatory framework; future sources of labour; the impact of migrants within the working population; the practicalities of establishing international trade agreements; inward financial investment.

The surprise closure of Building Futures Group (BFG) earlier this year led to the sector posing some pertinent questions of its own, not least of which was, why and how did this happen? And, how do we solve some of the problems this closure creates? Underpinning each of these questions was the realisation of a potentially negative impact on organisations and individuals previously supported by BFG.

But the resilience of our industry and its ability to ask the right questions has resulted in a series of practical member-focused responses: the Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA) relaunch and the transfer of operational management of the Industrial Cleaning Machine Manufacturers Association (ICMMA) to ISSA for example.

It is this resilience that will see us up to and beyond June 23. The essential factor for the industry as a whole and for those registered voters within it is to continue asking the questions, whilst bearing in mind that the responses offered are drawn from selective data and forecasting models – the equivalent of gazing into a partisan crystal ball. By keeping the pressure on campaigning groups to provide quantitative information the facility for drilling into this information is improved.

Perhaps most important of all is, regardless the outcome, the industry keeps asking the questions and supplying itself with the information it needs to thrive and survive well into the always-unknown future.

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