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Co-operative Union becomes... Co-operativesUK
The 133-year old apex body that represents the £17 billion co-operative
sector of the economy is to change its name to
Co-operativesUK in a move designed to gain greater
recognition of co-operative businesses.
In a referendum ballot, which closed at the end of December 2002, members of
the Co-operative Union voted by an overwhelming 93% in favour of
the new name.
"Co-operativesUK is more than a new name," says Pauline Green,
Chief Executive. "It is our way of showing that the Co-operative Movement now
has a single strategic voice in the UK. We want people to know that
co-operatives, in all their various forms, are uniquely positioned to deliver
goods and services in a commercially and socially sustainable way."
According to Pauline Green, the co-operative sector has not always been seen
as the great innovator and provider of important services that it is.
"Co-operativesUK brings together thousands of individual
co-operative businesses, which in total we estimate to account for £17 billion
of UK trade - this is often overlooked.
"I believe the co-operative model is one that our business leaders and policy
makers need to understand better as it is a ready solution to many of the UK's
economic and social problems." In particular Pauline cites developments in areas
such as childcare and care for the elderly, football trusts, energy, and leisure
where, increasingly, the co-operative sector is able to deliver a
user-responsive service whilst maintaining commercial viability.
According to Pauline Green, "co-operatives provide tried and tested business
solutions with a 'co-operative advantage', offering direct democratic input from
stakeholder groups. Co-operative businesses are managed by the
people who benefit directly from their services. This 'bottom up' philosophy
means that they can often meet the needs of their customers more effectively
than other business models."
Says Pauline, "We know that many decision-makers do not fully understand what
our role is and as a result we were missing out on opportunities to make the
voice of co-operation heard. We believe that
Co-operativesUK is a name which makes it clear to
everyone what we are all about."
[originally issued January 2003]