Co-op News - March 2021

The March edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue looks at ways co-ops can help to drive greater equality, with initiatives on racial equity from organisations including the UK's Co-op Group and Inclusiv Credit Unions in the USA. Meanwhile work is being done by Europe's energy co-ops to increase female participation at all levels. Plus the usual updates from the movement around the world.

The March edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue looks at ways co-ops can help to drive greater equality, with initiatives on racial equity from organisations including the UK's Co-op Group and Inclusiv Credit Unions in the USA. Meanwhile work is being done by Europe's energy co-ops to increase female participation at all levels. Plus the usual updates from the movement around the world.


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The world's co-ops face up to

the challenges of inequality




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,

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Rebecca Harvey I rebecca@thenews.coop


Anca Voinea I anca@thenews.coop


Miles Hadfield I miles@thenews.coop


Keir Mucklestone-Barnett


Barbara Rainford (chair); Elaine Dean

(vice-chair); Harry Cairney; Sofygil

Crew; Tim Hartley; Phil Hartwell;

Gillian Lonergan; Beverley Perkins;

Shaz Rahman; Lesley Reznicek

Secretary: Richard Bickle

Established in 1871, Co-operative

News is published by Co-operative

Press Ltd, a registered society under

the Co-operative and Community

Benefit Society Act 2014. It is printed

every month by Buxton Press, Palace

Road, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE.

Membership of Co-operative Press is

open to individual readers as well as

to other co-operatives, corporate bodies

and unincorporated organisations.

The Co-operative News mission

statement is to connect, champion

and challenge the global co-operative

movement, through fair and objective

journalism and open and honest

comment and debate. Co-op News

is, on occasion, supported by co-ops,

but final editorial control remains with

Co-operative News unless specifically

labelled 'advertorial'. The information

and views set out in opinion articles

and letters do not necessarily reflect

the opinion of Co-operative News.

W @coopnews f cooperativenews

The world has been rocked by two global crises in rapid succession - it was still

coming to terms with the financial crash of 2008 when Covid-19 hit. These events

have worsened inequalities which were already systemic - between regions,

between races, between genders, between age groups. It's not surprising that we're

also seeing global movements to counter those inequalities - from the Me Too

campaign to Black Lives Matter and the youth-led Extinction Rebellion.

Equality is intrinsic to the co-op values and principles: so how is the movement

responding to the changes sweeping the world? This month we look at just some

of the steps being taken. In Britain, targets have been set by Co-operatives UK and

the Co-op Group to improve diversity at all levels (p28-29), and the movement

has stepped up its efforts to bring food justice to those going hungry during the

pandemic (p32-33).

We also look work at work being done by a number of co-op and credit union

organisations in the USA to drive inclusion and economic empowerment (p30-31),

and how the Fairtrade movement is planning to deal with new challenges to its

efforts to equalise trading arrangements for producers in the global south


On gender, efforts are being made to increase participation in energy co-ops,

which will hopefully give new impetus to the transition to renewables (p36-37).

We also catch up on some of the converstions being made to improve the position

of women in the global co-op movement (p 38-39).

For the future of the co-op movement it's vital to bring in a new generation of cooperators;

this month we hear from three young voices: Sylandi Brown, who is

active in the US electric co-op movement and has been chosen as one of its 25

young voices by the International Co-operative Alliance (p42-43); and newly

elected Central England Co-operative directors Brad Tuckfield and Jody Meakin


We also speak with Brian Branch as he prepares for a well-earned retirement from

the helm of the World Council of Credit Unions - we wish him all the best for his

future and thank him for his sterling work (p44-45).

There's a report from the SAOS conference where Scottish farm co-ops look to

the opportunities brought by tech in a world changed by Brexit, Covid-19 and the

climate crisis (p 26-27), while historian Natalie Bradbury looks at pioneering coop

journalist Annie Bamford Tomlinson, as part of our 150th anniversary series.


Co-operative News is printed using vegetable oil-based

inks on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer

waste) with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC

certified sources. It is made in a totally chlorine free process.

MARCH 2021 I 3



Report from the SAOS conference on

Scotland's agri-co-ops (p26-27); We speak to

the Co-op Party's Preet Kaur Gill MP about the

future of Fairtrade (p34-35); UK retail co-ops

are stepping up their work on food justice

(p32-33); Brian Branch speaks to Co-op News

as he prepares to retire as head ofWoccu

(p44-45); Annie Bamford Tomlinson, a pioneer

of women's co-op journalism (p48-49)


Chief executive of Singapore National

Co-operative Federation


Conversations with women in the global

co-operative movement


Scotland's agri-food co-ops look to a

future after Covid-19 and Brexit



Steve Murrells from the Co-op Group and

Rose Marley from

Co-operatives UK give progress updates


Initiatives by lnclusiv credit unions, the

Federation of Southern Co-operatives



Covid-19 has worsened food inequality.

Here's how the UK's retail co-ops and

Co-op Party are responding.


We hear from two young directors who

have been elected to the board of

Central England Co-op


One of the 15 young voices of

co-operation chosen by the ICA, Sylandi

works with US electric co-ops


We speak to the president and CEO of

the World Council of Credit Unions as

he prepares for retirement


Another look back as Co-op News turns

150. This month, Natalie Bradford

discusses a pioneering journalist and

early voice for women in co-operation


Sylandi Brown, one of the International

Co-operative Alliance's 25 young voices

Credit: Jordan Grimes Photography

Read more: p42-43


The pandemic has added to pressures

facing producer co-ops. How is the

Fairtrade movement responding?


How can we increase women's

participation in energy co-ops?








UK updates

Global updates




Digital events

4 I MARCH 2021



Co-op Party sets out stall with response to

Starmer speech and London wish list

The Co-op Party has welcomed last

month's speech from Keir Starmer setting

out his vision for the UK.

In his first major speech on the

economy as leader of the opposition, Sir

Keir - leader of the Co-op Party's sister

organisation Labour - attacked the

government's record and attempted to

rally his party.

He called for a new savings scheme to

let people to "have a stake in our national

recovery" through bonds offering a

competitive interest rate, with the money

invested in national reconstruction.

Other pledges saw an offer of "startup

loans for 100,000 new small firms,

especially in areas outside the south-east,

and a call for a weekly £20 increase to

universal credit benefits to run beyond the

scheduled end date of 31 March.

In a comment piece for Labour List, Co-op

Party chair Jim McMahon, Labour/Co-op

MP for Oldham West, wrote: "The need

to rebuild an empowering state so it can

be fit for the challenge ahead is critical.

Without a foundation of decent public

services we cannot hope to put power,

wealth and opportunity in the hands of

working people. Only with an active state

- one that takes determined action - will

we rebuild our fragile nation."

Mr McMahon, who is transport

spokesman on Sir Keir's shadow cabinet

team, said co-ops would be crucial to this

process. "If you want to build an inclusive

economy- rooted in community, returning

.a. Labour leader Keir Starmer

value and acting in the long-term interests

of our nation - co-ops provide the answer.

"With Keir's long-standing support

of the movement, and with the shadow

chancellor [Anneliese Dodds] as one

of seven Labour and Co-operative MPs

serving on the shadow cabinet, you would

expect policies being developed to be

co-operative proof, and that is exactly

what has been delivered."

Mr McMahon said the recovery bond

and small business fund would, among

other things, create "a new generation of

co-operatives" and "give working people a

stake in the future and a dividend on the

contribution they make".

He added: "Labour's proposals would

help spread small businesses, which

are rooted in their local communities

by design. It would encourage more

businesses to consider registering

as social enterprises, co-operatives,

employee-owned businesses, as well

as establishing a preference for joint

ventures, as evidence suggests that these

are more successful and durable."

The recovery fund will also bring

investment to communities, said Mr

McMahon. "As we think ahead to the

new economy a true partnership between

government, enterprise and people will

tackle the climate crisis and support

the creation of new skilled jobs. This is

a moment to start a new chapter for our

country, one of hope and a collective

endeavour. Co-operation will be at the

forefront of our renewal."

Meanwhile, the Co-op Party's London

branch: has revealed its key policy

proposals ahead of the Mayoral and

Greater London Authority (GLA) elections

in May 2021 and local authority elections

in 2022.

The Party's manifesto, Building Common

Ground, calls on the London mayor to

implement several co-operative policies.

These include a Co-operative Commission,

modelled on those in Wales and Greater

Manchester, to identify barriers to the

growth of the sector. The Party also wants

a Co-operative Development Agency for

the city, to foster the development of small

co-ops, credit unions, renters' unions and

supporters' trusts.

It also calls for a co-operative approach

to public transport via a revitalised

London Transport User Group, with

all season ticket holders automatically

made members. The group would have

the right to elect a representative to

the board of Transport for London.

Other key asks are involving individuals

and community groups in local strategic

planning, and a citizen's assembly to sit

in parallel with the upcoming UN climate

summit in Glasgow.

The Party would also like 16- and

17-year-olds to have the right to vote

in London elections, (as they do in

equivalent elections in Scotland and

Wales), alongside an expansion in

co-operative education.

Developed by Party members in

London, the manifesto incorporates their

ideas and experiences, as well as those

of councillors and candidates working

within local government, co-operative

housing, healthcare, co-operative

education and credit unions in the city.

The Party is running 17 joint Labour

& Co-operative London Assembly

candidates in May.

Other activity from the Party has seen

Luke Pollard, shadow environment

secretary and Labour / Co-op MP for

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, call on

the government to reverse its decision to

lift the ban on bee-killing pesticides.

He has written a letter to the Prime

Minister and is asking for people to cosign

the letter in support of his request.

You can read and co-sign the letter on

the Co-op Party website.

MARCH 2021 I 5


MP writes to LV= chief executive for answers on its demutualisation

The chair of the All-Party Parliamentary

Group for Mutuals, Gareth Thomas, has

written to the CEO of LV=, Mark Hartigan,

for answers about the demutualisation of

its life and pensions business.

Mr Thomas, Labour/Co-op MP for Harrow

West, invited Mr Hartigan to give evidence

to an inquiry by the group into the matter.

He has also invited Matt Popoli, who is

leading the bid by US private investor Bain

Capital's £530m bid to the 178-year-old

mutual, to answer questions.

Mr Thomas said the bid is "particularly

controversial as other deals, such as

a £540m bid from fellow mutual the

Royal London Group, which would have

permitted the company to retain its

mutual status, have been rebuffed".

Mr Thomas said: "We look forward to

hearing Mr Hartigan's evidence for the

demutualisation of Liverpool Victoria. We

are keen to understand why he thinks such

a move is in the interests of LV's current

owners; their members and similarly why

he thinks it might be good for consumers

and for competition."

LV=, one of Britain's biggest financial

mutuals, was founded in 1843 and traded

for most of its life as Liverpool Victoria.

The sale in December 2020 of the life and

pensions business to Bain Capital follows

the sale of LV= General Insurance to

Allianz in 2019.

Mr Thomas said: "Members of the

parliamentary group are concerned at

what impact the sale will have on LV=

members, the insurance industry and

competition and choice in financial

services. We are also interested in whether

the LV= decision reflects weaknesses in

the government and regulators' views and

support of mutuals."

A spokesperson for LV = said: "As part of

this process, we have already proactively

offered the chair of the APPG for Mutuals

a detailed discussion on the transaction

with Bain Capital. We welcome the

opportunity to more formally explain

why Bain Capital was singular in offering

not only an excellent financial outcome

for members but also an unrivalled and

long-term commitment to LV='s future

prospects, business and people."

When it announced the sale in

December 2020, LV= said the move would

deliver "an excellent financial outcome

for members with greater security and

enhanced distributions for with-profits

members" and emerged from a "boardled,

comprehensive and rigorous strategic

review". It said the sale "maintains

competition and choice for customers."

But Mr Thomas said: "Bain are a wellknown

American private equity giant.

They have been accused in the past of

buying up businesses, then funding the

purchase through corporate debt loaded

onto the books of the company they're

buying, cutting jobs and other costs only

to sell up at a heavy profit.

"Even more worrying, the sale seems to

be going forward without proper scrutiny.

The LV= board is attempting to do away

with the democratic process which would

usually require a majority of members to

approve any move to demutualise, and

have banned the media from attending

online member meetings about the

sale. Policyholders cannot even find out

how much they will receive if the sale

goes through. We're looking forward to

understanding the plans prepared by

the board of LV= through the evidence

Mark Hartigan offers us, but we're also

.&. Gareth Thomas MP

keen to hear direct from Bain themselves

to properly understand their plans for the

future of LV=."

► The APPG says it will also seek evidence

from mutual sector experts and financial

analysts. It is keen to hear from other

individuals and organisations and with

an interest in this Inquiry. The deadline

for the submission of written evidence is

Friday 5 March and the APPG plans to

hold a number of oral evidence sessions

in the first quarter of 2021, before

publishing its inquiry report. Evidence

can be submitted to the APPG Secretariat

at appg@mutuo.coop


Co-op Bank reports

improved loss of £100m

The Co-operative Bank has recorded a pretax

loss of £103.?m (down from £152.lm in

2019) for the year to 31 December 2020.

The Bank said it had enjoyed a resilient

financial performance in challenging

environment, with its performance targets

met or exceeded in line with its plan.

Updated guidance expects it to return to

profitability from 2021.

CEO Nick Slape said: "Our priority

has been to provide customers with

the support and reassurance they have

needed during this period and to navigate

a challenging retail banking market and

uncertain economic conditions.

"We end the year having delivered a

resilient financial performance that is

in line with our plan at this stage in our

transformation, and having completed

a number of key milestones including

separation of IT systems from the Co-op

Group, improved digital journeys for our

customers, and the issuance of £200m of

MREL-qualifying debt.

The Bank is no longer owned by

the the Co-op Group following the

financial crisis of 2012. But it has kept

the name in line with its ethical policy

and support for the movement via

the Hive, a co-op support body delivered

by Co-operatives UK.

MARCH 2021 I 7


New rules, new funding

as government looks at

the housing sector

Members of the Confederation of

Co-operative Housing (CCH) are being

invited to an online meeting with the

Regulator of Social Housing to discuss a

new framework for tenants.

This follows the publication of the

Charter for Social Housing Residents, a

white paper setting out the government's

plans following a consultation green paper

published after the Grenfell fire tragedy.

The meeting will take place online on

18 March at 2pm with Jonathan Walters,

deputy chief executive of the Regulator of

Social Housing. It will give CCH members

the chance discuss what the forthcoming

changes mean for co-ops.

While much of the white paper is

welcomed by the CCH, the organisation

has raised a list of issues that will be

covered at the meeting:

• Regulation of safety and consumer issues

• A responsible person for health and safety

• Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

and electrical systems

• New tenant satisfaction measures

• Perception of crime

• Information on how money is spent

• Engagement with tenants

• A Responsible Person for the Consumer


• Decent Homes Standard review

• Anti-social behaviour review

• Access to skills on mental health

• Requirement to have a domestic abuse


• The Housing Ombudsman Service

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Housing,

Communities & Local Government has

allocated £4m to help community-based

organisations prepare bids for the £11.Sbn

Affordable Homes Programme - which

aims to provide up to 180,000 new

homes across the country while helping

to diversify the homebuilding sector,

improving design, sustainability and

build quality.

CCH chief executive, Blase Lambert,

said: "I welcome the government's

renewed commitment to supporting

communities that want to access grant to

build new affordable homes in England

as demonstrated by its announcement of

£4m in revenue support.

"The sector's lobbying, led by Catherine

Harrington at the National CLT Network,

has delivered much needed new resource

that will enable many communities to

make significant progress with their

plans to deliver affordable homes using

the various approaches and models of

community led housing."


Call goes out to save the voices of a movement for posterity

Work to record and preserve memories of

credit union pioneers has continued under

lockdown, thanks to a dedicated team

of volunteers.

The Credit Union Foundation's Save and

Sound Project, funded by the National

Lottery Heritage Fund, has moved online,

with eight volunteers - trained by the

Oral History Society - using a podcasting

platform to conduct interviews across the

north of England.

The interviews will become part of the

national oral history collection cared for

by the British Library where they will be

available to generations of researchers.

The project has interviews lined up for the

coming months but is still keen for people

with memories of credit unions before the

year 2000 to get in touch and share their

stories. The online platform means people

can see each other but only the sound

is recorded.

So that audio quality can be assured,

people sharing their memories are provided

with a microphone and headphones, as

well as full instructions.

Volunteer Nancy Gray is new to credit

unions but says she feels "very privileged

and excited to be part of this project

recording the history of the movement

and the contribution it has made to

bettering the financial health of so many of

its members."

Another volunteer, Co-op News'

international editor Anca Voinea, has

volunteered because she wants to "help tell

the stories of some of north of England's

credit union pioneers".

Project manager Abbie Shelton said: "We

have already recorded some fascinating

stories; I am really thankful for all the

advice we have received, and I am proud of

our volunteers who have risen admirably to

the challenge of learning new technologies

and techniques.

"We are really grateful to everyone

who has already come forward, but we

are still looking for more people to share

their story. No matter what role you

played in a credit union, your memories

will help us tell the story of early credit

unions and raise awareness of credit

union heritage."

► If you are interested in contributing

your memories to the project, or have photos

or other items that you could share, email

abbie.shelton@c redit unionfoundation.

org.uk or visit s.coop/2ke2d

8 I MARCH 2021


Campaign to

create a '10,000 strong'

network of young credit

union professionals

The World Council of Credit Unions'

youth programme has launched a '10,000

Strong!' campaign in a bid to form the

largest global network of young credit

union professionals.

The World Council's Young Credit

Union Professionals network (WYCUP)

began as a scholarship programme and

now offers a platform for young credit

union professionals and their advocates

to connect internationally.

The campaign encourages people to

join the WYCUP Affiliates Network and

Council, which are open to all young credit

union professionals and their advocates.

The WYCUP Affiliates Council is a

monthly round-table discussion among

leadership from networks around the

world, as well as advocates for young

people in jurisdictions where formal

networks do not currently exist.

With the launch of the 10,000 Strong!

campaign, WYCUP has redesigned its

website and will convene the first monthly

meeting of the WYCUP Affiliates Council

on 16 February. That gathering will

include up to 70 representatives from local

networks around the world.

.&. Credit union professionals attending a WYCUP event

In 2021, the WYCUP Affiliates Council is

aiming to:

• Strengthen communication channels

between local networks

• Support the formation of new local


• Expand engagement opportunities

and speaking roles for young people at

virtual events

• Promote an exchange of ideas to

develop shared resources.

Thomas Belekevich, WYCUP director,

said: "This is an exciting time for

WYCUP as we work to bridge the

leadership gap. After a year of separation,

we're coming back together stronger

than before.

"That strength comes from recognising

that our local efforts have a global impact

when we collaborate effectively. WYCUP

is expanding horizons by empowering

youth to be part of the solution and

- in the process - strengthening the

relevance of financial co-operatives in

the eyes of young professionals and

members everywhere."

WYCUP is bridging the leadership gap

as part of Worldwide Foundation for

Credit Unions' awareness and fundraising

campaign called 'Bridge the Gap,' which

aims to help the global credit union

movement bridge four key inclusion gaps

that have been further exposed by the

Covid-19 pandemic.

► You can sign up to the WYCUP Affiliates

Network at wycup.org


Credit unions join forces to launch

website campaigning for 8th co-op principle

A number of US credit unions have come

together to launch deitalks.com, a website

which advocates an 8th co-operative

principle focused on diversity, equity and

inclusion (DEI).

The Local Government Federal Credit

Union (LGFCU) and Civic Federal Credit

Union (CFCU) in North Carolina and the

African-American Credit Union Coalition

(AACUC) are behind the website. They

are inviting other credit unions and

co-operatives to adopt the 8th Principle

and demonstrate their support through

the site.

Deitalks.com allows for organisations

to publicly pledge their support for the

8th principle, and encourages them to

promote the idea on their own websites

and social media channels.

"Co-operatives support the notion

that every member of a community

has an inalienable right to exercise the

doctrines presented in the co-operative

principles,'' said LGFCU and CFCU chief

executive officer Maurice Smith. "I see

an opportunity to reaffirm our values and

explore new opportunities.

"It is time to consider where diversity,

pluralism and inclusion for all of us stands

today. I think the time is right to officially

recognise the 8th Principle as part of the

credit union and co-operative philosophy."

Renee Sattiewhite, AACUC president

and CEO, added: "These values of

plurality will not be short-lived. It's the

right thing to do. Diversity, equality and

inclusion line up with our core principles

and values, and that is why it is lasting."

16 I MARCH 2021



Glanbia dairy

co-op announces

2021 profit share

Irish dairy Glanbia Co-op has announced

its 2021 trading bonus, and says it will

continue its monthly profit distribution

for milk supplier members. The co-op will

also return €6.3m (£5.Sm) to 4,500 farmer

shareholders under the terms of the 2020

trading bonus scheme.

Glanbia says its 2021 trading bonus

scheme will reward farmer members for

purchases made from milk processor

Glanbia Ireland (GI) and its subsidiaries,

in which the co-op has a 60o/o stake.

For milk supplier members, the 2021

trading bonus is potentially worth up to

0.4 cents (0.3 pence) per litre on all milk

delivered this year. This is equivalent to

up to €2,000 (£1,700) for a 500,000-litre

supplier spending over 8 cents (7 pence)

per Ii tre with GI.

At the end of this year, the total spend

will be divided by the total litres of

milk delivered to generate a cent-perlitre

input spend for each member. The

applicable trading bonus will be paid in

February 2022.

For grain growers, there's a trading

bonus of up to €10 (£9) per tonne of

grain supplied.

Beef and sheep farmer members will

qualify for a feed trading bonus of €10

(£9) per tonne on beef, dairy and sheep

feed products purchased from GI. And

there's €3 (£2.60) per tonne available to

qualifying co-op members on purchases

of pig feed and straights.

Eligibility for feed bonus payments is

confined to non-milk suppliers in 2021.

The dividend the co-op receives from

GI, which equates to 30o/o its annual profit

after tax, is ring-fence for distribution to

active farmer members of Glanbia Co-op.

The share of GI profit payment for 2021

is 0.4 cents (0.3 pence) per litre (plus VAT).

Australia's biggest credit union rebrands as bank

Credit Union Australia (CUA) has confirmed

it has registered a new trading name of

Great Southern Bank which takes it one

step closer to becoming Australia's largest

customer-owned banking organisation.

"For 75 years we've remained steadfastly

focused on helping all Australians own

their own home," said CEO Paul Lewis. "To

continue that journey, our research shows

we need to change our name."

Fonterra partners with Royal DSM to lower emissions

New Zealand Dairy business Fonterra is

working with science-based company

Royal DSM to reduce its members' on-farm

greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Owned

by over 10,000 farmers, Fonterra hopes the

project will reduce the emissions produced

by dairy cows and their manure, which

contribute to climate change. The new feed

will reduce methane emissions by 30o/o.

European retail co-ops to work on code of conduct

The European Commission launched

discussions with stakeholders on

designing a code of conduct for business

and marketing. Retail co-ops will be

represented in the talks by Euro Coop.

The plan will see the code emphasise the

collective role of actors along the food

chain in the transition towards a more

sustainable EU food system.

New report explores flexibility services for energy co-ops

A report from REScoop.eu - the European

federation of citizen energy co-ops - has

set out new opportunities for energy

co-ops to use 'flexibility services' to

integrate wind and solar energy into the

energy system. Methods of achieving this

flexibility include using pricing and other

market incentives.

ICA gears up for second Global Youth Forum


25-26 March

Get trained & join

the cooperative

youth community!

The second Global Youth Forum will take

place virtually on 25-26 March. Organised

by the International Cooperative

Alliance, within the framework of ICA­

EU Partnership in collaboration with the

ICA Youth Network, the event will bring

together young professionals from

around the world. Register at


MARCH 2021 I 19



Details of the Co-operative Insurance

Services 'partnership' with Markerstudy

were received by policyholders shortly

before Christmas in a letter of bewildering

complications. The reports of the f185m

purchase by Markerstudy (itself recently

acquired by a Qatari-based company), that

was finally completed in early December

following delays in the approval process by

the Financial Conduct Authority (no doubt

related to the protracted Brexit transition

negotiations), told a very different story to

that given to members of the Co-operative

Group previously.

Markerstudy were keen to boast of their

access to the entire Group membership

database in their ongoing partnership

with the Group - 'to target products more

relevant to members' individual needs'.

This follows the surprise announcement of a

Co-op Live f100m sponsorship deal with US

based Oak View Group and another ongoing

'partnership' with the Co-operative Group.

These so-called 'partnerships' mark a

further gross departure by the Co-operative

Group from the model developed first by

the Rochdale Pioneers as expressed in

the ICA statement of Co-operative Identity

which forms the basis of co-operatives the

world over. The gulf is now staring us all

in the face and there is an urgent need of

attention by the UK regulatory body before

any more lasting damage is done to the UK

co-operative movement. In light of this I

propose that the following motion should be

put to the Co-operative Group at this year's

Annual General Meeting:

"We the membership, call for an

immediate referral to be made on our

behalf, as owners of the Co-operative Group,

to the UK regulatory body - the Financial

Conduct Authority - to demand a review of

the constitution adopted in haste in 2014 to

reassess compliance with the ICA statement

of co-operative identity in light of recent

decisions by the executive and the board.

We need to re-establish the Co-operative

Group as an authentic co-operative in order

to restore trust and renew our purpose with

structures that properly reflect co-operative

values and principles."

For a motion to qualify to be put to the

AGM it is necessary to submit 100 copies

each signed in 'wet ink' by qualifying

Co-operative Group members at least 70

days prior to the date of the AGM (15 May

Have your say

Add your comments to our stories

on line at thenews.coop, get in touch

via social media, or send us a letter.

If sending a letter, please include

your address and contact number.

Letters may be edited and no longer

than 350 words.

Co-operative News, Holyoake

House, Hanover Street,

Manchester M60 OAS


"t# @coopnews

f Co-operative News

2021) - ie Saturday, 6 March 2021. This is

non-trivial especially so given the feeble

state of the current democracy.

If you wish to support progress of the

motion please email me at ian.hewitt@

phonecoop.coop for further details.

Ian Hewitt


The Co-op Group were approached for



See obituary p25

So very



sad. Thoughts, love and

to Brian's family, friends

co-operative colleagues.

Cooperative Futures

Via Twitter

So sorry to hear this. I remember Brian

did a fantastic job getting together all the

Midcounties Funeral vehicles for a 'Top

Gear' special which we filmed. It was a

fun day and he really enjoyed himself. My

condolences to his family.

.a. The Co-op Group's HQ in Manchester

Nicholas Milton

Via Twitter

24 I MARCH 2021

Nick Milton



Fairtrade - which helps producers in growing

countries achieve sustainable and equitable

trade relationships - has a longstanding

relationship with co-operatives. Many Fairtrade

producers are organised as co-ops, and in the

UK, retail co-ops are vital supporters.

Another supporter is the Co-op Party, which

champions Fairtrade and acknowledges the

importance of ensuring sustainable livelihoods

for the farmers and workers within them, in the

context of fragile global supply chains.

The Co-op Party will continue to champion

the Fairtrade movement but it needs to rethink

the way it markets itself, said Labour/Co-op MP

Preet Kaur Gill, ahead of Fairtrade Fortnight (22

February - 7 March).

"The Co-op Party has been at the heart of the

Fairtrade movement in the UK for over 25 years,"

she adds. "Like us it is internationalist and wants







to spread wealth more fairly. We share the same

values and believe that Fairtrade is still the best

way of lifting farmers in the global south out

of poverty."

Ms Gill, who chairs the Co-op Party's

parliamentary group and is shadow international

development secretary, is the first Sikh female

Labour MP, representing Edgbaston.

"We all want to see the Fairtrade movement

succeed," she says, "because it is the best way

of ensuring that everyone gets an equal share

and stops the big corporations from completely

controlling the market."

Seen by many as a rising star in the Party, Ms

Gill shops at Birmingham's Bearwood, Harborne

and Quinton stores run by the Co-op Group and

Central England Co-op. Last year she took an

active role in promoting Fairtrade Fortnight in

Parliament and this year is looking forward to

joining in the online fortnight whose theme is

'Climate, Fairtrade and you'.

While Fairtrade grocery sales have grown in

the UK and around the world, non-grocery sales

have slumped, warns Michael Gidney, CEO

of the Fairtrade Foundation. Another serious

challenge has seen some supermarkets and

corporations pull out of Fairtrade certification

in favour of their own 'fairly traded' lines -

facing shoppers with a dazzling array of logos,

from red British tractors to blue sustainable fish.

This blurs the distinction for Fairtrade and has

hit its market share.

The retail co-ops are among the few big players

to stay loyal to the scheme: the most recent highprofile

defection saw KitKat announce last June

that it was severing its links with Fairtrade and

would instead source cocoa from farms in the

rival Rainforest Alliance scheme.

"Over 21,000 Co-op members signed a

petition calling on the company to reconsider.

That shows the real strength of feeling," says

Ms Gill. "We called the CEO of Nestle into

Parliament and asked them to rethink, but sadly

they didn't. That decision impacted over 27,000

farmers and producers in West Africa, many of

them women who will now earn just 74p a day."

Ms Gill believes Fairtrade needs to look

again at how it markets itself in an increasingly

competitive environment. Although co-op stores

stock only Fairtrade bananas and were the first

supermarket to do so, most of its competitors

stock bananas certified by other schemes,

alongside small quantities of Fairtrade. "We

are all familiar with buying bananas," she says.

"The non-Fairtrade ones are nearly always

34 I MARCH 2021


With the Covid-19 crisis

affecting mobility in the UK

and across the world, many

co-op events are now taking

place online, including

some of those listed below.

If you would like to add any

virtual events taking place,

please email us at:



Social economy and youth


2 March 2021

Workshop organised by Social Economy

Europe and Cooperatives Europe,

gathering young entrepreneurs in the

social economy and co-operatives,

bringing knowledge from educational

institutions, to spark an exchange on

EU initiatives aimed at supporting youth

entrepreneurship in the social economy.

c-::> s.coop/2kec8

Co-op Retail Conference

5 March 2021

The Co-op Retail Conference will feature

an overview of retail trends from a leading

economist, case studies from senior

co-operative retail executives, interactive

networking and a celebration of how

much has been achieved in one of the

most challenging years for retail

in modern times.

C-::> tinyur/.com/y2boy3ha

Abcul annual conference

10-11 March 2021

The largest gathering of credit union

personnel in Britain. Full details tbc.

c-::> tinyur/.com/y4d9vf4o

Just Don't Call it Conflict Resolution

24 March 2021

Stir to Action webinar on why conflicts

erupt and what to do about it, facilitated

by Kate Whittle, who has been involved in

the co-op sector for over 30 years. The

event will explore the pros and cons of

different conflict resolution styles.

Participants will also learn about the

different steps involved in using a

retrospective technique to resolve

team conflicts.

C-::> tinyur/.com/yyhk5bsz

CFCFE Credit Union Conference: Towards

New Business Models

29 March 2021

Covid-19, fintech and big data technology,

such as open banking, will bring change

to the financial services industry,

and credit union mergers may be one

response. This conference will look at the

implications of this.

c-::> s.coop/2kec7

Global Youth Forum

31 March 2021

The second edition of the Global Youth

Forum - Cooperative Entrepreneurship.

Organised by the International

Cooperative Alliance, within the

framework of ICA-EU Partnership

(#coops4dev) and in collaboration

with the ICA Youth Network, it will bring

together young co-op entrepreneurs

and professionals from all around the

world to discuss new solutions and

recommendations, learn from the best

practices, and to foster new ideas and


C-::> s.coop/2kec5

Food Justice Conference

31 March 2021

Co-operatives East Midlands hosts an

on line discussion with Paul Gerrard from

the Co-op Group, Nigel Adams from Hope

Foodbank,Nottingham, and Tanya Noon

from Kandaroo.

C-::> cooperatives-em.coop

World Credit Union Conference

11-14 July 2021

World Council of Credit Unions' 2021

conference will feature more than 30

educational sessions with topics relevant

to all credit union leadership levels.

Delegates will also be able to network

with other attendees and industry

partners from across our international

co-operative movement. Further event

details will be available in early 2021.

C-::> tinyur/.com/y6hgh8w4

50 I MARCH 2021

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