Down the Procurement Pub with the Co-op, Blizzards, Electronics Watch and Bowie

obertauern wolfDown the Procurement Pub comes to you today from Obertauern in Austria, where Spend Matters top European management (and his wife) is having a skiing holiday, much of which consists of sitting in a very pleasant hotel room watching the blizzard outside whist listening to old (and new) Bowie tracks on Spotify. We have got out enough to sample a few mountain restaurants and ski a bit, to be fair, so the picture comes from the very characterful Almrauschhutte bar, full of stuffed animals. Peter and the Wolf, you might say (thanks to Jason for that allusion!)

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It has been an expensive holiday, as I pretty much had to buy a new pair of skiing boots. We hire skis, but have our own boots, and the owner of the ski shop told me that he was not really allowed to fit my boots to his skis because "the ski manufacturers will say they are so old, the skis are not designed for them and if you fall, I will be liable". Ridiculous! I mean, they can't be more than, what, 20 years old, maybe 25, or just a bit more perhaps ... OK, this is where my procurement genes come into play - no point in spending money unless you really have to! Anyway, I cracked, and got a lovely pair of boots that are heat-moulded to the shape of your feet. Now of course the problem is I have to ski for at least another 10 years to justify my "purchase the boots versus hire boots" decision. Amazing how these procurement issues come into everyday life, even on holiday in the Alps.

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We reported here on the Electronics Watch initiative, and on the recent conference at Greenwich University. Transport for London has now agreed to becomes the first major organisation in that sector to sign up to the independent monitoring organisation which is "working to improve working conditions and prevent exploitation and abuse in the global electronics industry". I know our friend Andy Davies of the London Universities Purchasing Consortium is delighted, as one of the drivers of this initiative, as TfL will "provide €60,000 a year to fund long-term monitoring and improvement of factories. In addition, TfL will get access to intelligence from Electronics Watch partnerships with monitoring organisations based in the areas of electronics production used by the public sector".

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The employment tribunal which is hearing the case of Kath Harmeston, dismissed as CPO in 2014 after just 12 weeks in the job, has been getting into some pretty interesting details this week. We are cautious of giving our opinion during the case, but let's just say there is going to be plenty to write about, whoever wins. We do have a theory emerging as to what the result will be ... let's just say, no-one seems likely to come out of this unscathed. The best reporting by the way has been on the Co-operative News website, if you want to follow it - the Times is pretty good too but behind a paywall.

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What else could our music be for this week but the late and very much lamented David Bowie. Starman on TOTP was the first musical performance I can remember making me go "wow". John Dolan and I played "Rebel Rebel" (me on piano and shouting "rebel, rebel", John on guitar and lead vocals) for hours as part of our never-came-to-fruition "band" age 16; and without doubt he has been the most influential popular musician of my lifetime. He's also being feted now as a brilliantly visionary businessman. I remember the Bowie Bonds, but didn't know he launched his own Internet Service provider BowieNet in 1996, which actually was more than a basic ISP; it had aspects of functionality that later on were replicated by the likes of Facebook and MySpace. He was just ahead of his time with that, it was before most people (including me) had even heard of the Internet! He truly was from another planet in terms of his vision, creativity and genius, and here is one of his two very final videos.

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