THE crisis-hit Co-operative group will today face the final hurdle in its plans for a radical shake-up of the way it is run.
A special general meeting in Manchester will decide on proposals drawn up in the wake of a disastrous period last year when it racked up record £2.5 billion losses.
The plans include reform of the food-to-funerals group’s board structure, with elected directors – including the likes of a plasterer, engineer and retired deputy head teacher – largely replaced by professional business people.
An earlier poll in May saw the key principles behind the changes win unanimous backing but they now face resistance by some within the co-operative movement.
More than 500 have signed a petition, backed by film director Ken Loach, saying the reforms are “directly opposed to the co-operative principles of democratic member control”.
The changes to the constitution will require the backing of a two-thirds majority. At their heart are plans for a slimmed-down board of 11 directors with “high standards of competence” to oversee its running.
The proposals were produced following a review by former City minister Lord Myners, though they water down his recommendation to purge the board of elected directors, instead opting to keep three chosen by the group’s membership.
The rest of the board would consist of an independent chairman, five independent non-executive directors and two executive directors including the chief executive.