What connects the EU and Rhubarb?

March 2, 2016

In 2010 Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb was awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Commission’s Protected Food Name scheme.

This means that local Yorkshire producers can access specific European funding to promote the product and have a legitimate legal argument against other products claiming to be “Forced” Rhubarb. Basically, “if it int’ from round ere’ ya can’t be callin’ it Forced Rhubarb, pal”.

‘How does this relate to the EU referendum?’ I hear you ask. Well, if Britain votes to leave the EU our region stands to lose both this income and the legal protection. Any company that produces forced rhubarb in this area will no longer have the access to; European funds, legal legitimacy, labour and stands to suffer. Now at HR180 we’re not usually in the business of being all “doom and gloom”, but we are seriously worried and when we’re seriously worried you’ll find we have to say something!

The leave campaigns would have us believe that this would be an “amicable divorce” where, given that we’re the 5th largest economy in the world, the EU countries would be bashing down our door to negotiate new trade agreements. Surely this is the height of supreme arrogance. At a time when our world is getting smaller and smaller, more global and more connected why would we apply an isolationist policy? It is likely that we would end up with a hike in trade tariffs and restrictions. Britain will be left as a severed limb attempting to renegotiate with a body that has moved on.

You could take the Nigel Farage stance and simply say that it’s “to get control of our borders”. But sorry – who’s actually going to do the work? Young people today have been promised that their investment in a university degree will pay off with a graduate job – with all the benefits, perks and development that entails. They do not want to be undertaking back breaking work in sheds by candlelight like the Polish and Romanian workers who are the back bone of the Forced Rhubarb harvesting workforce.

Failing to remain in the EU would see a potential loss of thousands of jobs, with global companies and manufacturers moving to low-cost EU countries. On a local scale we would see our region lose EU regeneration funding, SME’s lose access. SMEs especially would all of a sudden find themselves at a disadvantage to competitors within other member states.

There is also the subsequent issue of employing non-EU workers. Losing the ability to hire skilled staff from across the continent will impact a significant amount of SMEs. We can go back to the Rhubarb Triangle for this. The staff that work as part of a 24 hour process are often from countries outside of Britain. If this is removed the industry would suffer a serious blow. Potentially having to replace staff and when recruiting limit the amount of skilled potential staff on offer.

At HR180, we work globally and would find our job made increasingly difficult to perform without the advantages of free trade between EU member nations, making it easier and cheaper for British companies to market our services in Europe.

With all this being said, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Brexit can only be bad news for Britain and British SMEs.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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