Following the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, Co-op Group CEO, Richard Pennycook, has reassured EU colleague members “who have been worried about whether they will be allowed to stay in the country where they’ve put down such strong roots”.
The Group has around 3,000 colleague members who are from the EU and have made their home here. When partners and children are included, the Group estimates there are about 10,000 people in its wider ‘Co-op family’.
“I’m pleased to tell you that the government appears to have listened to the concerns that I, and others, have raised over the future of EU citizens living and working here in the UK,” said Mr Pennycook, writing in a blog for the Group.
“In the last few days the government has confirmed to us that it ‘fully expects’ that when we do leave the EU, the legal status of EU citizens living here, and our own nationals working in the EU, will be “properly protected”. That’s welcome news for all of our colleagues who’ve been so worried.”
Mr Pennycook added that as both a co-operative and a major employer in the UK he felt it was the organisation’s responsibility to raise the issue on the behalf of colleagues.
“I did so directly to George Osborne, the then chancellor, when we met at a conference in the week following the referendum result, and then in a letter published in The Times on 29 June.
“As a co-op we speak out on matters of concern to our colleagues and our wider membership. It’s a responsibility we’ve always taken seriously and we’ll continue to do so in the years ahead.”