Monday, August 17, 2020

Striving for Wider Membership UK Freight and Logistics Representatives Widen Their Portfolios

Road Haulage Group Opens Up to More of the Sector
Shipping News Feature

UK – Whether pandemic related or not it would appear the beginnings of a turf war has broken out between two of the country's leading lobby groups representing different sectors of the industry as they strive to attract new members. The formerly titled Freight Transport Association (FTA) which rebranded last month to become LogisticsUK, claiming it represented the whole of the sector, has seemingly stirred the Road Haulage Association (RHA) into action.

The FTA’s move was certainly controversial as the name LogisticsUK was already taken by a freight directory owned apparently by a German publisher which has similar online publications in many other countries. Most of the organisations representing different parts of the supply chain have always had clearly defined roles.

For example the British International Freight Association (BIFA) has just about every freight forwarder of any worth signed up, as does the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) with warehouse keepers, although the UKWA also has many wholesale and retail companies on its books which have storage interests.

There is however a fundamental difference between these and the newly branded FTA/LogisticsUK in that whereas all the associations offer terms and trading conditions, membership of BIFA, UKWA and RHA entitles the members to trade under those terms, limiting liability accordingly. All such conditions are widely recognised by anyone in the trade as being the gold standard in their sector, plus the basis under which insurance claims are limited.

Spreading membership to any part of the supply chain, as LogisticsUK does has both strengths and weaknesses. The acceptance of members from any sector means there is not a single set of Ts & Cs which cover every eventuality and the operation therefore offers ‘model’ agreements for such things as individual storage contracts.

One can clearly see why the FTA has morphed into the new identity, as told to us by Rona Hunnisett, ‘Nothing has changed but the trading name, the only alteration is the name on the front door’, and indeed ‘freight transport’, whilst an all-encompassing term which has led to a confused identity, has attracted a widely ranged base of members better indicated by the ‘Logistics’ banner.

Now however the RHA has been stirred into action, and one suspects its rival's name change may well have something to do with it as it seeks to expand its own membership base. In the future the RHA says it will represent logistics staff, transport managers and van operators with the launch today of three new membership offerings.

The Association is extending membership beyond its business-owner-orientated base for the first time with two new offerings devised with individuals in mind, and one for which there was clearly a gap in the market.

First the two for individuals, firstly ‘Professional Membership’ which is aimed primarily at transport managers and will support those who carry out legally defined duties, offering direct access to the RHA Helpdesk. Secondly there is ‘Individual Membership’, aimed at giving logistics staff, retired hauliers and non-industry partners the opportunity to hear directly from the RHA, and get access to a package of benefits such as campaigning information and event discounts.

The final new category is for Van Membership, which will give operators access to the RHA Helpdesk, and the opportunity to earn the advantage of an RHA accreditation in an otherwise unregulated sector. Crucially it also enables the small van man to trade under RHA Conditions of Carriage, an area which, from an insurance point of view, is often the only one such traders, and their customers, will be really interested in.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said that bringing new groups into RHA membership will strengthen the industry’s voice and mean that more people in the sector will benefit from what the his organisation can offer, adding:

“This is a significant step for the RHA, one which many in the sector have urged us take over the years. It’s vital that we evolve in the right way and further cement our place as an organisation which sets the agenda, champions compliance and pushes for positive change in the industry. We’re delighted to welcome these new voices to join with the thousands of road transport operators already in membership.”

Photo: White van man will now be able to come under the RHA umbrella.