Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has urged an end to the civil war at the Co-operative Group as fears of job losses grow among staff demoralised by instability at the mutual.
As the Co-op Bank unveiled a £1.3bn loss today and in the wake of independent director Lord Myners’ decision to stand down in the face of hostility to his proposed reforms, Usdaw called for a clear and coherent strategy at the business.
Usdaw national officer for the Co-op John Gorle, who represents 50,000 of the group’s staff, said the problems at the bank – which the Co-op lost control of as part of a rescue - have raised questions about the business more widely.
Gorle said: “In addition to the problems with the bank, the much publicised instability at main board level, with recent resignations over the future direction and governance of the Group, is causing more uncertainty for our members.
“Adding to that uncertainty are the rumours of job losses and the proposal to sell the retail pharmacy business.
“Whilst there will be no quick fix for there is a growing anxiety with our membership over long-term job security.
“The Co-op needs to present a clear and coherent strategy for the future as soon as possible to help address our members’ concerns.
“Usdaw has members that work for the Co-operative Group in retail, distribution, funeral care, pharmacy and at head office. We are working closely with the Co-op to do everything we can to ensure these other parts of the business remain successful to protect our members’ jobs.”
Next week the Co-operative Group is expected to post a full-year loss of as much as £2bn.
The business has been in renewed turmoil since the middle of last month when chief executive Euan Sutherland resigned after details of his pay were leaked.
Lord Myners had hoped to modernize the Co-op’s structure. However he said this week he would give up his directorship after Midcounties Co-op, which like other independent societies has a vote on the proposed reforms said it would not back them.
Myners, who will stand down as a director on May 17, will nevertheless complete his review of the Co-op.