Reading Sylvia Macdonald’s Viewpoint in the British Baker ofFeb17th one thing that struck me was the point she made referring to the fact that Governments paid little real heed to comments made by Trade Associations with membership of less than three thousand.
This made me think where does that leave the National Association of Master Bakers? And dare I publicly air my views as a serving member of the Board. The answer I gave myself as you will have guessed by now is yes as long as I make it clear they are mine alone and in no way represent the Board.
Every member has their own views on what the N.A. should do and I am restricting these opinions purely to the matter of whether it should be a major lobbying organization on behalf of all members of the Bakery craft industry. Should we wish to increase membership to include all craft bakers then the subscription rates has to be low enough for all to consider it is worth paying.
This would mean inevitably that costs would have to be dramatically reduced and the only way that could be achieved would be by looking at every service provided and saying to members if you want the service you must pay for it as and when needed. No longer can a service be provided for the very few using it and paid for by the vast majority of members who have no need for it.
This means probably providing only a few core services such as advice on Employment Law, keeping members up to date with current legislation and lobbying, in the main become a service facilitator rather than provider. Inevitably this would upset many stalwart long term members of the N.A. but I would suggest our businesses have had to change to survive in many cases dramatically and the same must go for the N.A. change or perish.
Like many in fact I believe the majority of members wish it to survive as a group run for and by Bakers and to do that and have any influence with Government we must become larger and more inclusive. That inevitably will mean a comparatively low subscription rate, there will be those that will say provide a high standard of services which the members want and they will pay for it. True but not enough will or do that is the fact of life, wishful thinking does not increase membership.
There could be a creation of a main board representing various food organizations consisting of working representatives of each trade meeting say once or twice a year. This means actual working members not only Chief Executives of each trade group as I have always believed that unless you are at the coal face it is only to easy to lose a sense of perspective, as do many poor men who become rich forget what it was like to be poor.
Unless you have to meet a wage bill year in and year out it is only too easy to come up with ways to spend money. Always I am being told “You must realize Tony running a trade Association is different than running a business” Well I thought you still had to balance the books not waste money and provide a service