Good news re CIS and EU conference on ESOPs

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The Co-operative Group recently announced that it wants to sell off its general insurance operations but it is now reported that it has decided to cancel the sale of General Insurance and keep GI in co-operative ownership.

NACO logoThe National Association of Co-operative Officials, founded in 1917, a trade union that represents management and professionals in the co-operative movement (NACO), reports: “Euan Sutherland, Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group, said on Monday: “Having considered the sale process, and in light of the changed requirements on us under the Bank recapitalisation process, we believe it is in the best interests of our members, customers and colleagues, that we retain this strong business and develop it further. We received a significant amount of interest in the General Insurance business, which reflects its potential.”

The writer vouches for the excellent service given by CIS’ home insurance rep recently.

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phillip bennion2West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion addressed an EU Commission-sponsored conference on Employee Share Ownership to push his proposals for ‘inclusive growth’, updating the radical vision of former Liberal leader Jo Grimond.

The Lib Dem Employment Spokesman’s report backing wider Employee Financial Participation (EFP) in Waitrose-style partnerships, or other models to empower and galvanise workers, won the backing of the European Parliament in December. Yesterday Dr Bennion said:EU conference bennion“Last month Parliament voted by a massive majority to support the Bennion Report and the proposals in it to promote wider participation for workers and staff in the organisations they work for. There is a growing belief right across the parties that economic performance can be boosted by giving employees a real share of profits or ownership. It is a fact that most economies in Europe have lagged way behind America in implementing effective ways to involve employees directly in the performance or the ownership of the enterprises they work for.

“In the 1960s, the UK Liberal Party leader Jo Grimond spelled out a vision based on this approach which helped inspire many people, me included, to become active in politics. (Ed: In1978, he wrote The Common Welfare which followed a Robert Oakeshott-inspired visit to the Mondragon co-operative in northern Spain) But his ideas have never really been seriously addressed by government, despite the success of the John Lewis Partnership in the UK and companies in countries like Germany with a more inclusive approach to industrial relations. Jo Grimond’s ideas for a liberal and inclusive economics seem even more relevant now . . . Sharing best practice from around different European countries is something that costs very little but if it adds even just a little to profitability, it could benefit our economies by billions of euros.

“My report highlights how different EFP schemes already help workers take more of a role in the governance and financial success of the enterprises in which they work, through shared ownership or profits, or both . . . The social Liberal vision is about empowerment by choice, adding engagement not taking away rights.”

The Bennion Report was supported by all political groups in the Parliament’s Employment committee and the recommendations have now gone forward to the Commission and Member States for a voluntary framework to advise companies, partnerships, employees, unions and national authorities on how best to develop and encourage Employee Financial Participation.

The agenda of the conference can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/conferences/2014/0130-employee-ownership/docs/programme_en.pdf

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