As the COVID-19 crisis eases and businesses in Northern Ireland begin the process of getting back to work, the benefits and advantages of belonging to a proactive and practical trade association have never been clearer.
The Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) has teamed up with 24 other trade bodies since the pandemic shutdown in April this year to provide advice, guidance and support to its hundreds of member firms in the Province.
In a time of confusion and uncertainty, it has provided company owners and employees with lucid, unequivocal guides to what they could and could not do as they tried to balance essential working with the need to maintain the strictest safety precautions.
Working in conjunction with the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), an overarching body made up of trade associations, professional services bodies, companies and individuals, SNIPEF stepped into the fray immediately in March.
Since then it has been drawing on the collective expertise of CICV members to maintain a steady supply of information and practical advice as well as carrying out surveys, producing animations and posters, hosting webinars and making appeals to Government Ministers.
David Taylor, owner of Belfast-based Taylor Heating and Plumbing, said that the support the organisation has provided has been invaluable, especially in sensitive areas for small-to-medium firms such as managing staffing situations.
He said: “We have had to furlough workers, and also bring them back to carry out essential and emergency work in the commercial sector, in which we specialise. SNIPEF has provided assistance throughout the industry, with professional advice on employment law, legal and HR issues. It also offers invaluable training help.
“The Federation has also been directly involved in the Watersafe brand, an approved scheme for qualified plumbing companies which has been instrumental in preventing unqualified people from operating in the public water supply.
“The scheme provides for increased reporting and notification of works being carried out, and being part of it provides not only credibility but also enhances opportunities for tendering as well as proof of competence. I would strongly recommend SNIPEF membership.”
Fiona Hodgson, Chief Executive of SNIPEF, who also leads the Commercial Sub-Group of the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum, said: “Being in charge of a business in times of crisis such as we have all just experienced can be an isolating situation, and having the strength of a trade association to fall back on is very reassuring.
“As a trade body, SNIPEF has oversight of the challenges affecting many businesses and we can use this information to provide regular, coherent advice to all of our members.”
SNIPEF campaigns on a wide variety of issues on behalf of member companies, with a focus on critical changes needed to create a resilient and sustainable construction sector.
For further information, please contact Alicia Allen, Membership and Communications Manager, SNIPEF, Bellevue House, 22 Hopetoun Street, Edinburgh EH7 4GH.