Fairtrade, responsible sourcing and colleague safety on the 2019 Co-op Group AGM agenda

Members also asked to vote in MND and Members' Council elections

The Co-op Group AGM takes place in Manchester on Saturday 18 May, with members able to vote on decisions (motions) that affect the way it does business, and in directors and Members’ Council elections.

What do this year’s motions cover?

Motions put forward by the board and Members’ Council cover topics including political donations, colleague safety, a commitment to Fairtrade and responsible sourcing.

Motion 9, a joint Board and Council motion, welcomes the Group’s Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign launched in December 2018, but notes with great concern “the unprecedented levels of violent, weaponised attacks on Co-op colleagues in stores throughout the UK”.

It adds: “This level of violence reflects that in wider society which has been so tragically highlighted in recent months.”

The motion asks members to support the board as it maintains levels of investment in technology and security measures to keep colleagues safe, and build on increased support to community groups who tackle the root causes of violent crime.

Motion 10, a Council motion, acknowledges the Group’s performance in Fairtrade and “applauds our Co-op’s decision to sign up to the International Fair Trade Charter at a time when some retailers are reducing their commitment to Fairtrade.” But, it adds, “working with Fairtrade groups and our members, this AGM wishes to further strengthen support for Fairtrade Producers”.

Related: Co-op Group annual results

The motion calls for greater emphasis on Fairtrade campaigns and communications, for increased visibility of Fairtrade products throughout the year, and for the organisation to “fully report our financial support of Fairtrade, including the value of Fairtrade and its impact on producer communities, in a transparent way”.

Motion 11, another Council motion, addresses responsible sourcing in the context of climate change. It applauds the progress made on responsible sourcing to date, but “calls upon the Board to accelerate action to mitigate and reduce the impacts of the Co-op on the natural world,” to ensure a natural environment “we are proud to pass on to future generations”.

Co-op Group elections

Members are also invited to vote in the member-nominated director (MND) and Council Member elections.

The Group’s board includes four seats for MNDs. This year there are two three-year MND vacancies, and three candidates to choose from: existing MNDs Paul Chandler and Gareth Thomas, and a new candidate Sarah McCarthy-Fry. Ms McCarthy-Fry is finance director at GKN Aerospace and a former Labour and Co-operative MP (2005-2010).

The 100-strong National Members’ Council has 24 seats up for election across 11 of its constituencies, with 128 candidates on the ballot sheet. Full details of all candidates by constituency is available at co-operative.coop/council-elections.

“I’d like to thank Council Members for their continued commitment, creativity, passion and ingenuity,” said Council president, Nick Crofts. “Our positive and constructive relationships with the Board and the Executive are a testament to what we collectively want to accomplish for our members. As 2019 is the Co-op’s 175th year, I’m excited to celebrate and share the co-operative difference that unites us.”

Members are eligible to vote if they spent over £250 in Co-op Group food stores (or bought a qualifying product from one of its other businesses). Members can vote online at www.ersvotes.com/coopagm2019 using the two voting codes found in the letters or emails that will be sent to them by 29 April 2019. Voting on motions can be done online by 13 May or in person at the AGM. Voting for MNDs and Council Members closes on 13 May and results will be announced online on 16 May.

Members are also welcome to attend the AGM in person, at Manchester Central on Saturday 18 May where the results of the elections will be announced, vote on motions in person, take part in workshops, and meet colleagues and other members in the marketplace.

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