Number of stumbling blocks trip unification

Getting a new agreement on the salary for the Chief Executive Designate of the proposed combined vintners’ organisation seems to have been among the stumbling blocks in moving forward with the amalgamation of the LVA and VFI.

While both organisations remain tight-lipped about what caused the breakup on the road to unity the amalgamated body would have seen the country’s publicans speak with one voice for the first time in nearly 50 years.

And while substantial areas of agreement had been reached, according to a joint statement released by the two organisations announcing the abandonment of plans to join together, “… in recent weeks, a number of complex issues have arisen of a legal and technical nature”.

As a result, the merger Chairman John Behan advised the Councils of both organisations to suspend the process.

“The two Councils have agreed to do so while continuing to work closely together in the best interests of members,” continued the statement.

In the meantime, both organisations will undertake joint campaigns as they did in the past with the Good Friday/#AboutTime Campaign, for example. And they have further joint campaigns planned.

Drinks Industry Ireland understands that a re-negotiation of what had already been agreed by way of the Chief Executive’s salary had been called for by the VFI in the wake of the Irish Farmers Association scandal despite the two sides having already agreed to a salary that would reflect the market norm.

It’s understood too that the LVA Chief Executive’s salary had been disclosed to a Remuneration Committee for the purposes of assessing the appropriate salary going forward contrary to claims in the press that it hadn’t.

However other issues arising between the two organisations also seem to have contributed to the breakdown of the amalgamation process.

Two years of work and considerable expense have gone into the project which foundered within six months of being launched when the LVA and the VFI failed to agree on a way forward.

Prior to the joint preparations, the two organisations had separately undertaken independent reviews of their respective organisations which both concluded that the two organisations were in good health financially and enjoyed robust support amongst their members.

However the work and expense involved in compiling these reports and the subsequent moves to unify the two trade bodies has not been wasted claims one VFI spokesman who stressed that it had been “a good exercise in ascertaining the members’ views on the priorities and issues that they see as being important and on the way forward for them”.

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