Friday, May 16, 2014

Co-ops growing stronger

Co-ops growing stronger: subsidiarity, solidarity and sustainability

 John Courtneidge 16 May 2014

The Co-operative Group in the UK is being put through the mill (partly our fault, partly attacks by globalised capitalism).

My view is that the solution is in three parts (at least!) - each of which might be of use to the wider Co-operative Movement:

1) Retain as a national co-operative those parts that need best to be at  a national level: CRTG and farms/food production, Co-operative Finance generally (banking, pensions, etc . . .)

2) Set up and/or disburse the retail functions to existing or new regional co-ops; ie subsidiarity.

3) Convert the Consumer Co-operative model for the retail co-ops into a Community Co-operative model - with Boards that are part-elected by the active consuming membership and partly due to representation by the workforce on a truly representative basis (ie perhaps by lot from the workforce rather than by vote). Ie solidarity.


  a) Stephen de Vries (the OxfordU academic advisor to Inequality Briefing) said on Monday at the Inequality Briefing meeting that there is no relationship between CEO pay and corporate effectiveness/efficiency.

  b) By contrast, we know from The Spirit Level (see that social, national and corporate wellness increases as income differentials are narrowed, and

c) that The ICA Statement contains both equality and equity as co-operative values.

Accordingly, by considering that:

   equality + equity = fairness

(Which may be a fair(!) synopsis), a significant aspect of our route to co-operative wellness contains two essential elements:

  i) That the refreshed co-operative movement adopt the Pay Fairness Commission approach (using randomly-selected  Pay Fairness Commissions to annually recommend to Boards on pay ratios);

  ii) That each co-op carry out ad publicise 'Annual Co-operative Audits' to demonstrate their (our!) fidelity to all of the Co-operative Values and Principles contained in the ICA Statement on the Co-operative Identity (for which, see and also logged in the papers' section at )  ie sustainabiity

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