The Co-op Group holds its AGM on 15 May 10am, with members once again asked to participate online as Covid-19 restrictions continue.
The Group says: “Even though the government has announced its roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions, large scale events will not be permitted until 17 May at the earliest. Unless the government guidelines have materially changed, members other than those Co-op colleagues required to attend as part of their job will not be able to attend the meeting.
“To ensure your vote counts, we are asking eligible members to vote beforehand and join us on the day where they can watch and listen to the AGM proceedings and ask questions of the board.
“Our rules require a quorum of members to be physically present at the meeting, so a small number of colleague members will be physically attending the AGM in 1 Angel Square, observing social distancing requirements.”
Motions 1-8: The board recommends a vote in favour.
1. To receive the Annual Report and Accounts for the period ended 2 January 2021.
2. To approve the Directors’ Remuneration report for the period ended 2 January 2021.
3. To re-appoint Ernst and Young LLP as auditors and authorise the Risk and Audit Committee to fix their remuneration.
4. Joint Board and Council Motion – Political Donations
This seeks approval to incur political expenditure, including donations and/ or subscriptions to political parties, not exceeding £750,000 in total for the year commencing 1 January 2022.
The Group says: “If this motion is passed, we will continue to be a subscribing member [of the Co-operative Party] paying £598,600 in 2021, and will also be able to make additional small donations to other political parties, campaigns and organisations which support co-operative values and principles.”
5. Board Motion – Supporting a Modern and Inclusive Co-operative Movement
The Group says it wants a plan to build a stronger co-op movement to meet challenges such as digitisation and climate change, working with organisations like Co-operatives UK and the International Cooperative Alliance.
It adds: “We’ve been actively engaged with our Members’ Council on these important areas and how they can perform their key role of monitoring our affiliation with the wider movement. We’ll aim to give greater clarity to this
role via a mutually agreed policy – this is both a requirement of our rules but also provides some but also provides some important guide-rails on how we all work together.”
6. Council Motion – Sustainable Production and Consumption
This AGM calls on the Group to drive sustainability by measures such as encouraging more environmentally friendly choices among customers and suppliers, to reducing carbon intensive ingredients in its products, continuing to adopt and promote greener transport, packaging and energy consumption; and lobbying government on climate and other issues.
7. Council Motion – Inequality and Food Poverty
This calls on the Group to empower people through education and
employment opportunities, and supporting fair access to food for all, and to campaign on issues around inequality and social mobility.
8. Independent Society Members (ISMs) Motion – Co-operative Sustainable Solutions
This calls on the board to “work in partnership with our independent society members and the wider movement to create sustainable solutions that deliver change in a way that is demonstrably co-operative and
The Group’s board does not support motion 9, another from the ISMs, regarding Funding for Co-op Press and Co-op College
This says: “At last year’s AGM almost 98% of votes were cast in
support of our Motion calling on the Co-operative Group to support the wider co-operative movement. Six weeks later we were surprised and disappointed when the Coop Group announced changes to the funding of the Co-op College and Co-op Press which disregarded the will of their members by reducing that support.
“Whilst welcoming the subsequent confirmation of 2021 funding for the Co-op Press, this AGM calls upon the Coop Group to restore the funding to these organisations and truly play its part in maintaining our co-operative
heritage, promoting Co-operative education and supporting a strong, independent and co-operative press.”
The Board says it was “disappointed” by the motion. It adds that the Group “continues to provide over £1.6m to support the work of the wider movement’s institutions” and the motion disregards its efforts to see the support organisations working together more closely and effectively.
It said it had been concerned that the College had not been operating effectively and welcomed work by trustees “to address some of the
longstanding weaknesses in their operation”.
The motion calls for “an unrestricted donation” to the College, argues the Board, adding: “We think that the right approach to supporting the College is to pay for services provided, in line with the approach of other co-operatives”.
“We are concerned that the motion is backwards-looking and misrepresents the Co-op’s position and as such, we are not supportive of it,” it adds. “The Board is proposing its own motion [Motion 5] which clearly states our ambition for the wider co-operative movement and the role we believe our members wish us to play.”