Seabrook on ... Solidarity during tough times

Few will dispute that commercial life has toughened over recent months and if my view on the world situation is any measure, we haven't seen anything yet.

While the past taught us our industry is the last to be hit by recession and the last to come out of it, part of today's world is rather different.

When we lose thousands of banking and other professional jobs, the demand for garden design and domestic landscaping work will inevitably contract. Some jobless folk from the building trade may also try their hands at hard landscaping. This is surely the time we should work more closely together: cooperation gives strength.

I am pleased to hear that the RHS annual flower show launch and Greenfingers Appeal press day are to be combined on 5 February. Last year they were held at the same venue but on different days, which meant the garden press lost a working day and gained a double dose of travel expenses.

By combining, the hosts get the chance to speak to a larger audience (it promises to be over 200 gardening communicators), both save money on the provision of refreshments, the trade is brought into close contact with the RHS and we lighten our carbon footprint. Groups of nurserymen in several areas are working together to reduce transport costs. If nurserymen and retailers work more closely together, they too can make savings.

One grower on the south coast, under pressure from a multiple retailer to hold pot-plant prices, did a deal on delivery. In return for no price increase the retailer agreed to take slightly less-regular deliveries in full loads. Some 10 return lorry journeys meant £5,000 was saved.

Togetherness was also shown by the JCB staff who collectively agreed a wage cut rather than see fellow workers lose their jobs; I often wonder about the expectation of annual wage increases every year to retirement.

When we get older and our work output drops, even though we have experience to offer, shouldn't wages either plateau or steadily fall?

Peter Seabrook is a gardening writer and broadcaster.


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