Leading campaigning groups and charities who bank with The Co-operative Bank are demanding that the Co-op’s pioneering Ethical Policy survive the bank’s transition to new ownership.
Charities including Action Aid, Greenpeace and Oxfam are among the signatories to an open letter written by the Save Our Bank campaign which is being published this weekend in national newspapers.
The letter calls for the bank’s new owners to guarantee that the bank’s Ethical Policy is embedded into the Articles of Association of any new-look bank, together with the underlying commitments to customer consultation, well resourced implementation, third party independent audit and warts and all reporting.
John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said:
“A major reason Greenpeace banked with The Co-operative Bank is that it was one of the few to have grasped the need for our society to wean itself off fossil fuels. It’s important to Greenpeace and our supporters that such far-sighted commitments continue.”
Jenny Ricks, Head of Campaigns at Action Aid, said: “ActionAid cares passionately that its partners and suppliers meet our ethical standards. The Co-operative Bank has previously aligned its policies to our work halting tax dodging and securing better labour standards globally – we need this to continue in the future.”
Shaun Fensom from Save Our Bank said: “We are looking for specific commitments in relation to the Co-op Bank’s Ethical Policy and not vague assurances. We need cast iron commitments to ensure that the bank continues to refuse to invest in areas such as the extraction and processing of fossil fuels.”
The Save Our Bank campaign which is backed by Ethical Consumer magazine has been launched in response to the ongoing crisis at The Co-operative Bank. The campaign aims to use customer power to ensure that the bank retains its Ethical Policy and that the bank is eventually returned to mutual ownership.
Ethical Consumer co-editor Rob Harrison said: “The bank’s new owners need to understand that if the bank abandons its ethical principles then hundreds of thousands of customers will abandon the bank. If this happens then the Co-op’s dead in the water and their investment will be worthless. If the bank’s customers act together with one voice they can become a force to be reckoned with.”
Consumers who are unhappy with the Co-op’s new ownership structure are faced with the dilemma that there are no high street ethical current account alternatives to the Co-op.
Ethical Consumer co-editor Rob Harrison said: “Although building societies offer a useful ethical-by-default alternative, unlike the Co-op they don’t offer a campaigning brand seeking to drive change in the business world. We don’t see many building societies currently campaigning on fossil fuels.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1 The full text of the letter is as follows:
“Over the last two decades many charities and campaigning groups have moved their accounts to The Co-operative Bank and urged others to do so. A major reason for this was the Bank’s Ethical Policy – which sets out clearly and uniquely how monies will and will not be invested.
As customers, we call those involved in setting out the Bank’s future to do their utmost to set in stone the continuance of The Co-operative Bank Ethical Policy and the underlying commitments to customer consultation, well resourced implementation, third party independent audit and warts and all reporting.
The establishment of these commitments in the Articles of Association would provide serious reassurance that The Co-operative Bank can continue to be a world leader in ethical banking.”
2 The signatories to the letter are Action Aid, Animal Aid, Burma Campaign UK, Ethical Consumer, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Oxfam, People & Planet, Pesticide Action Network, Share Action, Sustain, Up the Ethics, War on Want and the World Development Movement.
3 For more details on Save Our Bank visit: http://saveourbank.coop/
4 Launched in 1989 Ethical Consumer is the UK’s leading ethical and environmental magazine. In each issue Ethical Consumer examines the ethical and environmental record of the companies behind everyday products and services from bread to banks. For more information visit the Ethical Consumer website: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org
Tim Hunt Ethical Consumer: 07821304982
Shaun Fensom: 07770 602850