Save Our Bank
When the Co-operative Bank hit financial difficulties in 2013, ownership passed from the Co-operative Group (the Co-op) to a group of private investors.
A group of customers who believed strongly in the bank's ethical stance set up the Save Our Bank campaign. We worried what would happen to the bank's world-leading ethical policy as it came under tremendous pressure from its new owners to stop losing money.
The campaign soon attracted 10,000 supporters, and scored some early successes in getting guarantees from the bank on the maintenance - and even extension - of its ethical policy.
Continuing the work
We felt there was a need for a permanent body to keep up this work and in 2016 we set up the Customer Union for Ethical Banking. We think it's probably the first example anywhere of a constituted union of customers. The Customer Union is itself a co-operative, committed to ensuring the bank maintains its customer-led ethcial policy, and with an aim ultimately to bring the bank bank under full co-operative control and ownership by customers and staff.
In our short history we have had some notable successes that we believe underline the value of an independent, organised group of customers.
Working with the bank
In November 2019 the bank formally recognised the Customer Union in a ground-breaking recognition agreement - reflecting the productive and cooperative engagement that has been growing bewteen the bank and the union.
The bank understands and values the existence of an organised group of customers that can signal when things are not right, a group that wants the bank to succeed and to lead the way on ethics. The bank knows also that the union will continue to work for a return to cooperative ownership.
Under the terms of the recognition agreement the bank and union will meet regularly and aim to resolve any issues. The bank will publicly recognise the union and inform its customers. The bank must warn the union of planned changes to the ethical policy, and the union will warn the bank of any forthcoming criticism.
The Customer Union is a cooperative, registered with the FCA under the Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. As a cooperative, it is owned and controlled by its members. You can see the rules here.
The Customer Union needs some resources to do its work. That’s why we ask members to pay a small fee of £15 per year.