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Co-op"Lions Led By Donkeys" £2 Billion Loss

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

GMB Claim In 2008 That Co-Op Was “Another Case Of Lions Led By Donkeys” Vindicated With Reports Of £2 Billion Losses

The board should re-discover its founding principles by going back to its roots by embracing its core supporters and make peace with both GMB and TUC says GMB.

GMB, the union for funeral workers employed by the Co-Op, responded to reports that losses of £2billion will be announced next month. See notes to editors for press report in Manchester Evening News.

Paul Clarke, National Organiser for Co-operatives said “GMB has been consistently highly critical of a management team who alienated both society members and their own staff. In 2008 we said of the Co-Op that it was “another case of lions led by donkeys”.

We said the leadership thought 'Ethics' was a county east of London. They made the disastrous decisions in 200 to attack their own workers in their funeral arm when they withdraw negotiating rights for GMB. GMB had been recognized within their Funeralcare business for 110 years. GMB criticisms have been wholly vindicated.

Since then there has been grandstanding with people like Peter Marks, Len Wardle, Paul Flowers and Moira Lees acting like a executives of an FTSE 100 company rather than behaving as they should have done as bosses of a member owned democratic organisation.

We saw the sound bites of Ethical Business, Co-operative Difference, Co-operative Revolution and 'Values and Principles. They even have a V&P Committee. Whilst all the time executives were lording it up and became fixated with trying to become a major bank.

The disastrous takeover of Britannia Building Society which was effectively bust and their obsession of taking over 571 Lloyds branches have been major contributors in almost bankrupting the whole society and as a direct result  the Co-operative bank now 70% owned by venture capitalists.

Now we see them going for a fire sale of long fought for assets. They plan to sell shops, farms and pharmacies, threats of mass redundancies and while a reductions in staff hours is also proposed. The clothing and motor business has already gone and Sunwin Securites is also up for sale.

The answer from the top is a survey with leading questions which seeks further to sever links with its core supporters and their families.

The Rochdale Pioneers must be spinning in their graves as they see the society they founded almost run into the ground by the same type of spivs and chancers the Co-op was founded to oppose.

GMB as the union for the Co-operative funeral workers calls upon the board to re-discover its founding principles. It should go back to its roots and embrace its core supporters. It should make peace with both GMB and TUC. It should stop pretending to be Tesco Mark 2'. ”


Contact Paul Clarke 07713 077 193 or 0207 391 6723 or GMB Press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251823

Notes to editors

1 Paul Clarke is both a long standing member and elected Co-operative Society member.

2 Press report in Manchester Evening News dated 26 Feb 2014

 Co-op losses expected to exceed £2bn

The Manchester mutual has confirmed that it has started the process to sell its 15 farms and is exploring options for the future of the pharmacy business.

The Co-operative group is expected to sell its farming business as losses are expected to exceed £2bn.

The Manchester mutual has confirmed that it has started the process to sell its 15 farms and is exploring options for the future of the pharmacy business.

The Co-op has 750 pharmacies, employing around 6,400 staff. The group said it may sell “whole or part of the business.” It is not known how many jobs will be affected.

The Co-operative Group's farms business dates back to 1896 and covers around 50,000 acres of land in England and Scotland. The sites grow a variety of cereals, including wheat for bread flour, and a number of fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, cider apples and peas.

However, the enterprise is not considered a core business to the Co-op as it supplies only a small proportion of the food sold in its stores.

The pharmacy business, which was established in 1945, has felt the brunt of attempts by the Government to cut back on the cost of prescriptions.

Other businesses in the Co-op group include funeralcare, legal services, travel and general insurance.

Its banking arm, which is now under the control of bondholders as part of a refinancing to fill a £1.5bn hole in its balance sheet, is expected to drive the group to an overall loss of more than £2bn, according to reports.

The group is facing a raft of inquiries into what went wrong at the bank, with regulators recently launching formal investigations that could see former senior managers fined or banned from working in the industry.

The company's results are due on March 26 but chief executive Euan Sutherland is unlikely to reveal full details of his turnaround plan until nearer the group's annual meeting in May.




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Additional Resources

Co-Op Was “Another Case Of Lions Led By Donkeys”

download pdf42Kb (pdf) - 26 February 2014

GMB Campaign Leaflet