Co-operative Bank signs agreement with customers union

The union is a co-operative, which bank customers can join for £12 a year

An independent union representing thousands of Co-operative Bank customers has signed a recognition agreement with the Bank.

Set up in 2017 following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the Customer Union for Ethical Banking has grown to include 10,000 members and supporters who are customers of the Co-operative Bank. The union is a co-operative, which Bank customers can join for £12 a year.

While the union and the bank have been engaging informally for years, the new agreement will enable them to work closer under a formal relationship.

Rob Harrison from the Customer Union said: “In this moment of climate crisis, it is particularly disappointing that the big five high street banks in the UK are still using customers’ money to invest in fossil fuel projects. This makes it all the more important that there is still a mainstream bank out there which offers people another choice and a way to take action. This recognition agreement demonstrates commitment to listening and co-operating with its customers.”

Ryan Brightwell, also from the Union, added: “We don’t expect to agree all the time, but this agreement means we commit to working constructively for a good outcome in every case.”

As part of its Ethical Policy, since 1988 the bank has had a policy commitment not to bank any business whose core activity contributes to global climate change via fossil fuel extraction or production since 1988. Following the same principle, in 2015 the bank was the only one in the UK to sign the Paris Pledge to end financing for the coal industry. In September 2019 the Bank also gave colleagues time off to support the Global Climate Strike.

Chris Larmer, director of Customer Experience for the Co-operative Bank, said: “Our customers are at the heart of our thinking and it’s fantastic to collaborate with a group who are staunch advocates of what makes us different to other banks – our values and ethics.”