For over a century the Co-operative Group has been the UK’s leader in ethical business practices. No other business has done more to promote the importance of fair trade and ethical investment than the Co-operative Group. It is a movement that started in the UK and has flourished world-wide. Co-operative businesses have unique strengths but now the very democratic principles that have allowed this model to flourish are threatened by the Co-operative Group itself. Co-operative values are being set aside as the Group is transformed into just another corporate business
This should not be allowed to go unchallenged and we believe that the proposed changes should be rejected. Many prominent co-operators, such as Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, Iain Macdonald, former Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance, Les Huckfield MP for Nuneaton and Bedworth 1967-83 Under Secretary for Industry 1976-1979 MEP Merseyside East 1984-89. Paul Gosling, finance journalist, Alan Bibby, Mike Shaw, Network Coordinator, Students for Cooperation and David Thompson, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation, USA,
If you agree with us, please sign the petition and circulate to like minded people. The Group’s special general meeting to consider changes is set for 30 August, so please sign as soon as possible.
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Full Text of the Petition:
We the undersigned members and supporters of the Co-operative Group and the co-operative movement urge the rejection of the current proposed changes to the governance of The Co-operative Group until
- they can be demonstrated to be fully consistent with the Co-operative Values & Principles as laid down by the International Co-operative Alliance; and
- they are open to future change by members exercising one member one vote without requiring the agreement of the Board and/or Council.
Furthermore, we note that the Autonomy and Independence of The Co-operative Group is currently under challenge from the demands of its banking syndicate.
However the proposal that the Board should be composed in its majority of ‘independent’ directors is directly opposed to the co-operative principle of democratic member control.
Equally, the proposal that such directors should simply be subject to ratification by members rather than standing in an open election, is not consistent with genuine co-operative democracy.
The operation of a Nominations Committee should ensure that a Board made up of a majority of candidates drawn from and nominated by members would be suitably competent and qualified.
We are alarmed that proposed Rule 118.6 prevents members from making any further changes to governance of their co-operative, without the agreement of the Board, tying the hands of members for generations.