FCSI World Wide: ‘UK consultants won’t lose their membership’

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The FCSI’s World Wide division insists that no UK and Ireland consultants will lose their membership as a result of the imminent closure of the organisation’s UK chapter in its current format – and accused the local leadership of giving a “somewhat flawed description” of events surrounding the branch’s fate.

On Thursday evening, the FCSI UK&I circulated an email to members which stated that for the past six months it has been discussing proposals with FCSI EAME that would assist in delivering added value to UK members and working towards what it thought was an equitable resolution.

The email said that EAME had voted unanimously to terminate its affiliation, and without the offer of any further discussion or negotiation. “We have thus been informed that from 1st January 2016 the FCSI UK & I division will cease to exist, the Executive will be disbanded and we will no longer be able to use the FCSI name, brand or image.”

However, FCSI World Wide has issued a strongly-worded statement in which it says the information circulated to UK members does not represent the FCSI as an organisation, “nor does it accurately relate the facts”.

While it insists that it has no interest in getting embroiled in a public row, it said it wished to make it clear that nobody from the UK was losing their membership, and branded the current situation “essentially an administrative change”.

“For background, it is important to understand that the UK&I leadership initiated this change when it unilaterally notified EAME several months ago that they were withdrawing from FCSI effective January 1, 2016,” stated James Petersen, Secretary-Treasurer and Interim President of FCSI World Wide.

“Attempts were made to resolve differences between UK&I and EAME, with a tentative “Heads of Terms” document prepared for signature by UK&I, EAME, and WW in late September. The World Wide Board considered the document at their October meeting and found it was not an acceptable precedent to set for relationships between FCSI Local Units, Divisions and World Wide. A motion was made and seconded that the FCSI World Wide Board not accept the proposed Heads of Terms, and the motion passed unanimously.”

Petersen continued: “Similarly, within the past few days, the EAME Board voted not to accept UK&I’s proposed retraction of their termination notice, by a vote of eight to two. As a result, the UK&I local unit administrative function will end, as they requested and according to the timetable they set.”

On Friday, Andrew Etherington, the FCSI UK&I’s chairman, revealed that the existing FCSI UK & Ireland executive board has now reformed as a steering committee to develop a new British association for foodservice consultants, which will launch in the New Year. “All potential professional and allied members will be invited to participate in the process and further announcements will be made in January 2016,” announced Etherington.

Petersen said that anybody under the impression that members must choose between the FCSI and a body that doesn’t currently exist was mistaken. “All FCSI members currently represented by UK&I will become “at large” Members of EAME, with absolutely no lapse in status,” he explained. “Rumours that Members will be unable to continue using the FCSI initials are simply wrong.”

Petersen stressed that the FCSI cherishes all FCSI members, noting that it “particularly recognises the value and prominence of FCSI consultants in the UK and Ireland”.

“While there will for the time being not be an administrative organisation exclusively for this region, there is nothing to prevent EAME from establishing a successor local unit at an opportune time to be determined,” he stated.

He further added that the society hopes it will not lose any UK&I members as a result of the local administrative function disappearing, adding that FCSI World Wide believes the original decision made by the UK& I Executive “did not adequately consider or even solicit the wishes of its Members”.

To continue their FCSI membership, current Members need to do nothing except to direct any administrative items to EAME, confirmed Petersen. “There will, I suspect, be some transition required that will not be in place in the coming fortnight, but it will be in process.”

He concluded: “We hope that any individuals who have expressed aspirations to attempt to create some sort of organisation competing with FCSI in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and other areas in the region will reconsider, and focus their energy toward working with FCSI – EAME in continuing to strengthen the practice of food service consulting.”

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