As has now been well publicised, the FISA AGM took place on Saturday 19th March. The event was well attended by 35 members, including a strong representation from contractors.
Colin Mann, Chair, opened the meeting and explained the importance of the Agenda which hinged around the adoption of new Articles of Association because the original ones were drawn up, as is often the case with new organisations, on an ‘off the shelf basis’ when FISA was first incorporated. These original Articles were never intended to be the definitive fit for purpose Articles which would form the platform to take FISA forward into its essential future work. The proposed new Articles and Rules were the product of many months of hard work including significant consultation, particularly with the FCA.
Of the people present at the AGM, when the vote was taken to adopt the new Articles, 33 voted in favour, 2 voted against and there were no abstentions. The 2 against were Donald McLean and Brendan Burns. Donald had corralled a significant number of Proxies from FCA members which he used to vote against the Adoption of the new Articles. Nonetheless, once all the Proxies were included, the vote was 66 in favour of the adoption and 58 against. However, since this was a Special Resolution, a majority of 75% or more was required and so the adoption of the new Articles could not be carried.
In essence, therefore, FCA frustrated the process of FISA adopting its new Articles. We find this hard to understand as the new document is considered by virtually all, other than the FCA, to be infinitely more fit for purpose than the ones they were intended to replace. FISA had worked hard to liaise with the FCA in the drafting of the new Articles, a position which Donald McLean acknowledged at the AGM, which makes it even harder to reconcile the stance which FCA finally adopted.
On a more positive front, we are grateful for the very strong support being given to FISA by HSE. Iain Sutherland’s introductory address at the AGM recorded HSE’s view that FISA has made impressive progress since Judith Hackett CBE, Chair of HSE, laid down the challenge to the agricultural and forestry sectors some 4 years ago. We all acknowledge that FISA isn’t the perfect article but our progress compares extremely favourably with that of the English, Scottish and Welsh Farm Safety Partnerships. We and the FISA Steering Group are grateful to HSE for the endorsement of their support to keep driving the progress forward. FISA remains committed to this process, despite the extreme disappointment in the stance adopted by the FCA. Our resolve to stop deaths and injuries in our industry is undiminished and the work is continuing with full vigour to meet successfully with the objectives of the safety Accord.
Colin Mann & Gillian Clark