Co-operative trade union starts talks to merge with retail union

Naco, which has seen a decline in membership, is looking at a potential transfer of the union's engagements into the management arm of retail union Usdaw

The co-operative trade union Naco is in discussions to transfer engagements to the management arm of retail union Usdaw.

Naco, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, mostly represents managers at consumer co-operatives, but a period of uncertainty has seen a membership decline over several years, bringing with it significant concerns.

The move comes after a motion was passed at Naco’s annual meeting this week (21 June), which asked members to allow talks to begin and was passed by all present (with one abstention).

Discussions will commence with Sata (Supervisory, Administrative and Technical Association), which is the management section within the Union of Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers (Usdaw).

Naco was established as the National Association of Co-operative Officials in 1917, and today operates as a trade union and an affiliate of the TUC. As a professional management association, it assists members, representing as a trade union on an individual basis, providing professional advice and support, and negotiating on pay rates and terms and conditions of employment through collective bargaining with co-operative employers.

“While this is a very sad day for the union, it is a necessary step forward to look at a potential transfer into Sata, as the alternative could have seen the complete collapse of Naco due to the falls in membership we’ve witnessed over the past few years,” said Bob Lister, interim general secretary. “The union is exceptionally mindful that all members are fully considered in the talks that will start shortly, and at some stage could be asked to vote on the proposals, should the discussions move to that position.”

Mr Lister added that while it is too early to give any specific details: “Naco will be seeking the best possible outcomes for all members during any relevant discussions, and nothing will change in the immediate future.”

Naco represents managers at the Co-operative Group, Central England, Channel Islands, Chelmsford Star, East of England, Heart of England, Lincolnshire, Midcounties, Scotmid and Southern.

But, while SATA is the preferred option in terms of what they can give Naco members, the union is also mindful of how the move could affect member organisations outside the retail sector – such as the Co-operative College, Co-operatives UK, Co-operative Party and the Phone Co-op. This is one of the areas to “be discussed in some detail,” he said.

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