CONGRESS voted to keep the age rule, despite pleas to scrap it.
The Co-operative Group's South West Regional Board deplored the "discrimination" rule, which states directors cannot be elected over the age of 65.
It proposed the age rule should be removed so members can play a full role in democratic structures, but the proposal fell after 15,635 members voted against it. While 6,338 voted for the proposal and 1,592 abstained.
David Langham, who introduced the proposal, said: "Age discrimination takes away rights. Lets have the right for every member to have the right."
Alan Brett, from United Co-operatives, said: "It is not discrimination. It is just an attitude to try to get people through the Movement. I'm 59 and us older people can tend to stick around, so it's good that younger people are given the chance to get elected."