We’ve agreed an agreement is necessary

Years ago I was an engineer working with a team that was being sent to site to carry out a load of construction works. Nothing too major, but no matter what the workscope any  company showing up on site has to have in place a Site Safety Plan, which is a document identifying all the risks associated with the works and how they intend to manage them. Any contractor working in the oil and gas business will have a procedure describing how to prepare a Site Safety Plan, and it will typically contain prescriptive instructions such as:

– A hazard identification workshop and risk ranking exercise shall be carried out prior to mobilisation.

– A risk mitigation plan shall be put in place detailing how each identified hazard shall be managed such that the residual risk is as low as reasonably practicable.

– Tool-box talks shall be prepared and tailored to address the residual risks associated with the works.

In short, prior to mobilising to site, the Safety Manager leads an exercise in identifying the risks and mitigating against them, which usually involves compiling (or writing) numerous procedures related to the execution of the works (e.g. excavations, lifting, vehicular transport, etc.) This will all be collated in the Site Safety Plan and communicated to everyone involved, including the owners of the site, and demonstrates that the risks involved with the works have been properly thought about and are being managed. (Bardon will know all this stuff backwards and inside-out, as would anyone who’s spent time on a site.)

Anyway, our Safety Manager was given several weeks to prepare this document, and a few days before mobilisation it was passed to me for review. This is what I read:

– A hazard identification workshop and risk ranking exercise shall be carried out prior to mobilisation.

– A risk mitigation plan shall be put in place detailing how each identified hazard shall be managed such that the residual risk is as low as reasonably practicable.

– Tool-box talks shall be prepared and tailored to address the residual risks associated with the works.

Rather than doing the tasks required, the Safety Manager had simply repeated what we were supposed to do prior to mobilisation. He had completely failed to understand that now was the time to do what was required. Or he had no idea how to, and just winged it. I suspect the latter.

I was reminded of this when I turned on the TV this morning to see Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker telling everyone a deal had been struck such that Brexit talks can now move forward. But when journalists asked for details, such as the shape of the final agreement on the Northern Ireland border, the response was that they’d agreed than an agreement must be reached. Via Gareth Soye on Twitter, I found this excerpt from the report which supposedly gives us more detail:

Since the result of the Brexit vote was known, the question was always how to reconcile a differing regulatory regime either side of the border without putting in place a hard border. This was supposedly something that had to be agreed before the talks could proceed, but in the finest style of a modern corporate manager they’ve just said:

“We will not have a separate regulatory regime for Northern Ireland nor a hard border. Now, moving on…”

I suspect the intention of both May and the EU is that this issue will never come up for serious discussion again because, one way or another, the UK will remain in the EU in all but name.

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21 thoughts on “We’ve agreed an agreement is necessary

  1. When negotiating commercial contracts, I’m always happy to add “agreement to agree at a later date” clauses if the other party wants me to, safe in the knowledge that we never will.

  2. I myself hate the fucking EU with a passion. But….if we leave, get a halfway decent trade deal that sees us out of the Customs Union and Single Market then I’m ok with a transition period (including paying over money). Brexiteers have waited 40 years for this. Patience young paduan.

  3. Was that the same Safety Manager with the good CV & flat top haircut that you mentioned before because he too sounds like bit of a slack arse.

    Yes I think you are right, Brexit means nothing, its over. The European Programme and the UN, are a bit like The Hotel California…..

    “Relax, ” said the night man “We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like. But you can never leave …

    But if it were me that was negotiating the deal and I was on a signing bonus then I would suggest that we set up a new Donegal Corridor, to solve the North South Irish border issue.

  4. Was that the same Safety Manager with the good CV & flat top haircut that you mentioned before because he too sounds like bit of a slack arse.

    Heh, no. Different guy, but could easily have been him.

  5. @Bill

    We have some thermonuclear microdots in our offers that appear quite reasonable to our clients staff when they get our tenders, most of them just focus on the price and don’t read them anyway. Our clients then draft big contracts, which we bat to and throw and it suits us fine that our clients take a long time to respond, we never try and expdite a response. If by the time we are about to mobilise and we aint happy with their terms we drop them a one liner the day before to say that in the absence of any agreement we are proceeding on the basis of our offer, they wont have an alternative contractor ready to go, it works every time.

    Here are the clauses:

    1. Payment Terms are 30 calendar days from date of invoice by EFT
    2. If ground conditions change from those represented in the tender documents such that they adversely affect the progress of the works we are entitled to receive the additional cost and extension of time associated with the disruption caused by the changed ground conditions
    3. Our offer is based on unrestricted and unfettered access to the works, any hindrance to our access to site or our operations within the site that are outside of our control shall constitute a variation to the works
    4. Where an extension of time is required for circumstances outside of our control we will require that the associated costs of such a delay are recovered in addition to an extension of time
    5. Bardon’s Mob does not accept Consequential Loss
    6. Bardon’s Mob does not accept any head contract terms that are not expressly stated in the proposed terms and conditions

  6. I’m more sanguine about Brexit although I was hoping that there would not have been “sufficient progress” and that the negotiations would have run into the sand this month.

    This development is an exercise in deferring decisions and keeping the negotiationsgoing into 2018 but sooner or later the whole house of cards will collapse.

    Whether this is due to mulish intransigence in Brussels, political squabbling in London or attempting to kick the can down the road once the end of the road has been reached, the outcome is fairly certain and Martin Schulz has helpfully put his shoulder to the wheel by urging the creation of a United States of Europe.

  7. Martin Schulz has helpfully put his shoulder to the wheel by urging the creation of a United States of Europe.

    I saw that. For all the wailing from Remainers that they didn’t know what “leave” meant, at the time of the vote we also didn’t know what “remain” meant. Now we’re finding out.

  8. For all the wailing from Remainers that they didn’t know what “leave” meant, at the time of the vote we also didn’t know what “remain” meant. Now we’re finding out.

    Oh we knew alright Tim. It was the remoaners that were firmly in denial that a Federal Socialist States of Europe wasn’t on the cards. This has been the end game since the beginning but there are none so blind as those who do not wish to see.

  9. Sinn Fein have long memories. All ambiguities, real or imagined, will be brought up at the opportune time to back up demands for further concessions. Irrespective of whether the ambiguities are relevant in ten or twenty years from now.

    I suspect that the Good Friday Agreement has already achieved all that it was capable of. It seems unlikely that the Nationalist youth of Northern Ireland now have the necessary sense of grievance to sign up for a fresh round of The Troubles.

    What we are seeing now with the EU is probably how the Schleswig-Holstein question got kicked off long ago; two hundred years before the actual fighting.

  10. I regret I am Ignorant of much history, but I want to know if we had some sort of hard border with Eire in WW2.

    Or did German spies wander across into Northern Ireland unchallenged?

  11. “at the time of the vote we also didn’t know what “remain” meant. Now we’re finding out.”

    I’ve seen it claimed that Schulz only said that *because* of Brexit, since the leaving of perfidious Albion has released the brakes.

    This is, however, self-delusional counterfactual beaulocks. If these remainers ever bothered to actually learn another major European language and consume non-English media, they would know that Verhofstad and others have not hidden their desire to push for a US of Europe in any way – they’ve just not been open about it in English. Listen to them speak in French, German or Dutch and they’ve been quite open about it for years.

  12. “It seems unlikely that the Nationalist youth of Northern Ireland now have the necessary sense of grievance to sign up for a fresh round of The Troubles.”

    What about the loyalists boys. We just held our Christmas party at a random hotel in Brisbane, Australia. It was fairly raucous but everyone behaved within the limits and a jovial time was had by all without incident and the money was paid. The young ones all rocked on to the latest bucking bill joint (seriously that is what they do now) and some of us oldies stayed and had a few in the public area downstairs without incident. So we are leaving at closing time on best behaviors and a couple of lads start harassing me about my religion, they were obviously Northern protestants, fucking unbelievable I know and they don’t even know that I am a Buddhists yet, this was completely out of the blue, unexpected and uncalled for. There is a big dumb as fuck Maori bouncer standing there doing nothing that I have paid for, I am with some lads and there wife’s, the young ones ask me if I need some assistance with these lads. So I aint interested in a battle for nothing and with the lads wife and Maori bouncers around and say just let it go. We all got in cabs and that was that. Except I might do something about this, I dont think it would be right not to. We shall see, but those fucking bigoted toerags might actually get spoken to and I aint joking. That is the first time I have ever walked away from something like that, I dont regret it but I think it should be addressed and these cunts need to know that we wont be accepting there intimidation outside of there god forsaking little patch of dirt. Absolutely horrid specimens they were pissed and goading me for no reason. Why the fuck this should raise its head in random pub in Australia is a good example of why it definitely will in Ireland.

  13. @Tim Newman,

    You seem to have overlooked the key clause:

    In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support north-south cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 agreement

    If UK doesn’t receive a trade deal, UK will remain in customs union & single market.

    The Betrayal of Brexit

    Democracy is being betrayed. The Brexit terms agreed in Brussels this morning, making concessions on everything from ECJ jurisdiction to ‘regulatory alignment’ between the EU and UK, read like a prelude to surrender. It’s becoming clearer by the day that the Brexit negotiations are no such thing – rather, this is the trading away of our mass democratic vote to the benefit of the European Union by Labour, Liberal & Tory Parties that never wanted Brexit in the first place.

    We need to recognise the historic nature of what is taking place. The biggest democratic mandate in our history is being smothered in slow-motion, killed by concession. As those who claim to represent us set about undermining us, it’s high time we, the public, took back control.

    Treacherous spineless Appeaser May has surrendered to EU and effectively kept us in EU for next ten years.

    Accepting regulatory alignment means we will be subject to EU laws, but no input or vote on them and no free trade with other countries.

    Sickening sell out.

    .
    MSM? C4 News was ecstatic and claimed it was a win for all our people.

    .
    Ministers are mistaken. Regulatory alignment is Single Market membership in all but name

    This is what the UK is currently facing if we choose to accept regulatory alignment. We will not be in control of our laws; we will have no say over how they’re formulated, and we will become rule-takers in a countless number of policy areas. And whilst the Government may try to calm people’s nerves with the notion of ‘mutual recognition’, the truth is that the only rules that will be recognised will be the EU’s own.

    This is not what people voted for last June. They wanted to see a real change in how this country is run. They wanted politicians to do things differently, and not to be hamstrung by Brussels nor be able to blame the EU for their own shortcomings. And crucially, they voted to take back control.

    It would therefore be wholly unacceptable if we were forced into a deal where we were unable to create our own regulatory system which suits the needs of British business, and instead be subject to rules designed and imposed by Brussels.

  14. Bardon,

    Let me get this straight: you were at a works Christmas party in Brisbane when two Protestant Northern Irishmen wanted to fight you because you’re Catholic? Australia really did absorb a lot of our dross, didn’t it?

  15. @Tim N

    That’s what I was referring to in my final paragraph.

    I thought you were, but wanted to clarify and confirm May’s capitulation.

    It’s taken two days, but Sunday MSM reporting our useless MPs have noticed it.

    Soubray is ecstatic – that confirms my Friday opinion:

    Sickening sell out.

    MSM? C4 News was triumphal and claimed it was a win for all our people.

    To repeat:

    In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support north-south cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 agreement

    PM May: “Yes Mr Junker, I obey and will be on 4AM flight to Brussels”

    Was it WWIII? DPNK Nuclear attack? No, a discussion/meeting

    PM Theresa May – Strong & Stable? More like Weak & Subservient.

  16. Soubray is ecstatic – that confirms my Friday opinion

    Indeed. May has sacrificed Brexit in order to prolong her career for another few months. I can’t see Tory voters forgetting this in a hurry.

  17. @Tim,

    Yes your are right but how the hell they knew that I was a Catholic is beyond me, but they did, they must have some kind of advanced intellect to detect this. There is nothing worse than folk that move to new countries and take their old country baggage with them.

    I went back to the hotel in the morning as I had a suspicion that they worked there and that was why the bouncer was backing them. The manageress assured me they didn’t, looked at the video and said that they could see that there was a verbal exchange but not hear what was said and they would not serve them if they ever returned.

    The best bit about the whole incident is that I didn’t react when they first had a go and secondly when my younger construction worker colleagues said that it was out of order what they had done and offered to sort them out and I told them to get in taxis and take their wife’s home. I feel like a changed man, it would have been nothing but trouble if I/we engaged even if I got first prize. My missus didn’t come to the party as she had tickets for the Paul McCartney gig in town and knowing me very well she commended me for not getting into trouble, she even made me take an Uber to the hotel in the morning as she thought I was still over the limit to drive.

    See photo I took outside of the hotel in the morning, yes they are steel toe capped.

    Ghandi – a half naked fakir with Steelies

    https://s8.postimg.org/impcrhv85/Ghandi.jpg

  18. PCar/TN:

    I’m not sure I agree.

    Regulatory alignment was always on the cards- either by design or by accident/convergent evolution.

    As many people pointed out on Friday and over the weekend: alignment doesn’t necessarily mean we have the exact same rules- it just means we end up at the same outcomes.

    I think that was more or less a given, and I’m not sure I see the additional harm that it causes.

    My money, by the way is still on no deal, but I think that the game plan is we give way a bit in phase 1, and drive a harder bargain in phase 2: I suspect that the EU has gone in all guns blazing in part 1 as they are aware they have more to lose in part 2 than we do.

  19. I feel like a changed man, it would have been nothing but trouble if I/we engaged even if I got first prize.

    Ah, the mellowing out and wisdom that comes with age. Wonderful, isn’t it? I recently decided I wasn’t going to stand in the street arguing with a security guard for more than five seconds as I had better things to do with my life. Ten years ago I’d never have backed down.

  20. @Bardon

    Yes your are right but how the hell they knew that I was a Catholic is beyond me, but they did, they must have some kind of advanced intellect to detect this

    Something you said at some stage, Christian or Surname, School, H v Haitch, No. of siblings, eyes too close together………..

    Looking at photo, it’s your left foot 😉

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