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Don't pay your subs, UK repairers urged

Repairers are raising questions about the proposed merger of the Retail Motor Industry Federation's bodyshop division with the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association.

Garage chiefs are questioning the way the deal is being handled and asking what the benefits will be to accident repairer centres and the automotive industry as a whole.

The proposed merger is expected to take the form of a trial marriage throughout 2004. But one insider warns that any diligence period should be kept to the minimum and says clear proposals should be put to members for approval now.

His views are supported by a repairer who says: “It must be in repairers' interests for the marriage to be consummated before the end of the year as otherwise members could well again be asked for duplicate subscriptions.”

He adds. “There are no apparent terms of the deal and no clarity. For my part I do not intend to pay my subscription until these proposals are properly promulgated to me.” He urges other repairers to follow this line and to withhold subscriptions, saying: “ It would concentrate the minds of those who are paid to look after the interests of repairers.” At the time of going to press, no-one from either the RMI or the VBRA was available to comment. For some however, the merger was just a matter of time. Mike Monaghan, MVRA managing director, says: “The VBRA has been in a weakening position for several years, and it was becoming less and less viable to continue to operate independently. A merger was an inevitable, if a less than ideal, end.

“It is being trumpeted as one voice for the body repairers and this amuses me. Neither the RMI nor the VBRA was able to give the body industry what they wanted, and I struggle to see how the merger of the two will provide anything new.”

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