The Co-op Group has released the motions which go up for the vote at its AGM in Manchester on 19 May.
Voting is now open online and is open to members who have traded enough with one or more of the Group’s businesses.
Motions 1 to 3 are ordinary resolutions and are advisory, and are recommended by the Group’s board and council. They only need a simple majority to go through.
Motion 1 To receive the Annual Report and Accounts for the period ended 6 January 2018.
Motion 2 To approve the Directors’ Remuneration Report for the period ended 6 January 2018.
Motion 3: To approve a change in the executive remuneration policy.
A note to the motion says: “Our chief executive’s total package is a lot lower than the market rate.
“Rather than increase base pay your Committee believes it is better to increase the part of pay which links to performance. This will mean the maximum amount which he could be paid for this part of his pay will increase from 200% to 250% of base pay. No payment would be made if performance is not good enough.”
Motions 4 to 8 are ordinary resolutions but they are binding, and only need a simple majority. All are recommended by the board and council.
Motion 4 To re-elect Ian Ellis as an executive director.
Motion 5 To re-elect Lord Victor Adebowale as an independent non-executive director.
Motion 6 To re-elect Simon Burke as an independent non-executive director.
Motion 7 To re-elect Stevie Spring as an independent non-executive director.
Motion 8 To re-appoint Ernst & Young LLP as our auditors and authorise the Risk and Audit Committee to fix their remuneration.
Motion 9, also recommended by the board and council, is to approve changes to the Group’s rules. These will simplify processes to remove dormant or absent members, who have not traded with the Group for the past three years.
It is also proposed to move to maximum terms of office of nine years – from the current maximum of six – for both member nominated director and independent non-executive directors on what will generally be a three year cycle. If the rule changes are approved, they will apply to the 2018 elections.
Motions 10 to 12 are ordinary resolutions and are advisory; they only need a simple majority to go through.
Motion 10 – Co-op Party funding
The motion seeks approval for political expenditure not exceeding £750,000 for the year commencing 1 January 2019.
A note on the motion says: “If this motion is not passed, we will give notice to the Party that we will withdraw as a subscribing member; however, we will honour our existing commitment to give the Party 12 months’ notice to terminate our membership and will provide funding until the end of 2019.
“If this motion is accepted, we will continue to be a subscribing member, but will be able to make additional small donations to other political parties, campaigns and organisations which support co-operative values and principles.
The board and council recommend supporting this motion.
Motion 11 – plastic recycling
The motion welcomes “the leadership position being taken by our Co-op to minimise, in its supply chains and products, the use of plastics evidenced as harmful when diffused into our environment”.
It welcomes the Group’s “very early support for the plastic bottle deposit return scheme, the work progressing to develop fully biodegradable paper tea bags and the plans to replace with paper straws the plastic straws that we sell”.
It calls on the board to continue to find and reduce sources of plastic pollution, maximise the recyclability of packaging, and make an annual report on progress.
A note says the aim is make 100% of the Group’s packaging easy to recycle, with an interim target of 80% by 2020. Currently, 71% of Co-op brand products are in easy to recycle packaging, up from 46% in 2016.
It adds: “We want to continue to work across the industry to find new ways to package products as the current norms are not working. We’ve already started this through our changes to meat and fish packaging, our trial of fully compostable tea bags, introduction of cardboard pizza boxes and recyclable produce trays, as well as the news that we will move our water bottles to material made from 50% recycled plastic. We also want to inform and guide shoppers about the positives and challenges behind packaging and recycling.”
The board and council recommend supporting this motion.
Motion 12 is a members’ motion on responsible advertising submitted by Colin Baines, a former ethics adviser and campaigns manager for the Co-op Group, and non-executive director of Stop Funding Hate (SFH). It was backed by 200 other SFH-supporting Group members.
It states: “This AGM notes the concern from the United Nations and hate crime experts that some media outlets in the UK are fuelling and legitimising prejudice and an increase in hate crime. The Co-operative Group has responded positively to member concerns on this issue and has introduced an advertising policy to ‘challenge those views expressed in print which we and many of our members believe are incompatible with our values” and “use our contacts with publishers at every level to make the case for change’.”
The motion notes that the Group “leads the way on meaningful social responsibility policies, including open and honest reporting on impact”, but calls upon the board to review the impact of its current advertising policy and report to members on: the specific issues publications have been engaged on; the impact of this engagement; and processes by which impact is monitored.
“If the Board’s review finds it unable to report impact, we ask it to prepare an ethical advertising policy that puts controls in place to ensure adverts do not appear in media that are incompatible with co-operative ethics, values and principles,” adds the motion. “We ask the Board to report on progress to the AGM in 2019.”
A spokesperson from the Co-op Group said: “We know our members’ opinions vary on this matter and it’s right to let them decide for themselves how they vote. We’ve responded positively to the concerns raised by some of our members and used advertising to challenge those stories that people have found unacceptable. The board believes it is for our members to decide on this matter and is remaining neutral.”