The fifth Co-op mystery – 3: the ‘sins’ of an ‘outstanding ambassador for the co-operative movement’ are good & generous actions

It is good to be able to say that further information, received unofficially, brings with it a huge sigh of relief, because the individual mentioned in the last post – “honest, hard-working and highly respected in the city in which he worked” – is not said to have committed one of the usual peccadilloes.

Confirmation or rebuttal of the following information, before its publication, was sought. The landlord organisation sent a polite message containing the words ‘no comment’ and the individual concerned at Head Office sent no reply to this member of its society, which equals no comment.

The employee is said to have infringed an obscure letting clause in the premises’ lease, of which neither he nor, presumably, the society’s lawyer, was aware.

An extreme and ill judged over-reaction

This could have been resolved in a civilised manner whilst he was in post. All this cloak and dagger secrecy and putting him ‘out of the business’ – to use the head office phrase – was an extreme and ill judged over-reaction. Excellent employees should be given every support.

Generous, helpful and co-operative

In a generous, helpful and co-operative spirit, he had for many years allowed low-income organisations, whose work was consistent with the co-operative ethos, to use the rented premises when the society had no bookings for them.

The landlord, after many years, has invoked a long-forgotten clause, on the grounds of suffering loss of revenue – as those organisations would have paid to use other accommodation in the building.

Those who know the premises can say that the vast majority of these groups would not have been able to meet such substantial charges and meetings would simply not have taken place.

The employee’s new line manager regarded this issue as grounds for suspension, and a disciplinary hearing is due to take place in the new year.

Great support in the city for an outstanding ambassador for the cooperative movement

The ‘accused’ is a jewel in the Co-op’s crown with great support in the city. The council’s senior sustainability officer has written ‘to someone senior’ at head office, pointing out the valuable work done over the years, how organisations have benefitted from the use of the rooms and that the person in question is an outstanding ambassador for the cooperative movement over many years. Other supportive interventions will be made.

We endorse the comment of the co-operative society member giving this information: “It does worry me that certain people in the big retail coops talk about fairness but don’t extend it to their own staff”.

Time for change?

Perhaps only ‘corporation-speak’ will be understood; we hope the personnel involved will heed the following advice and decide to:

weasel words amended

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