Newsletter 27 April 2016
Amnesty AGM and Co-op Bank results
Account closures campaign
At the annual general meeting of Amnesty International UK earlier this month, a resolution was passed with 88% in favour, challenging the decision by the Co-op Bank to close the accounts of human rights organisations, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others. Amnesty is a significant and long-standing customer of the bank, and has spoken out in support of the bank’s human rights leadership on a number of occasions.
The resolution instructs the board of Amnesty UK to:
- Publicise the adverse impact of the Co-operative Bank’s account closures on human rights organisations and other NGOs.
- Question the bank on the reasons for these account closures.
- Urge the bank to do more to help civil society organisations and human rights defenders to support communities that need help.
- Raise its concerns about the human rights impacts of regulatory requirements with relevant ministers, departments and representatives of the UK Government, and with the UK Charity Commission.
See Amnesty's AGM page for more details on this.
The great support this resolution attracted shows the strength of feeling generated by the Co-op Bank’s moves to close the accounts of groups set up to defend human rights. It’s good news that Amnesty is sticking with the bank and lending its weight (both moral and commercial) to the campaign to challenge these account closures, and we’ll be supporting their efforts where we can.
Since the bank told us in December that it was pausing account closures, we have heard of no further campaign groups having their accounts closed. We’re keeping close watch on the situation and ask supporters to let us know if they hear of this happening.
Save Our Bank and the Customer Union
We will be meeting with the bank early in May. We will raise again the issue of account closures - along with other issues raised by Save Our Bank supporters such as why the new Everyday Rewards scheme doesn’t apply to Smile accounts.
Meanwhile we're still waiting on the last elements of a bank account opening for the Customer Union, and will be in touch soon when the new Union properly swings into action.
Co-op Bank’s financial results
The Co-op Bank announced its 2015 results earlier this month, with the headline result being a loss of £610m, up from £264m in 2014. A big loss was widely flagged and anticipated, and provides some context for the bank’s risk-averse, if misguided, approach on human rights groups. The bank made a statement to us on its results, which you can read here.
The results also showed that the Chief Executive, Niall Booker, had received £3.8m including bonuses for his work in 2015. This is in fact less than it might have been - last year we pointed out it could be as much as £5m. But we’ve called on Mr Booker before to accept less pay, particularly in a situation when the bank is closing branches and colleagues are losing their jobs.
Meanwhile the boss of the Co-op Group, Richard Pennycook, has demanded a pay cut of 60%, saying it's "the right thing to do for the business" as the Group enters calmer waters. (Remember the Group previously owned the bank, but now has a stake of just 20%).
Someone has to break the cycle of spiralling executive pay, and Mr Pennycook has shown that where there is a will, there’s a way. Mr Booker should also do the right thing for the bank, and hand back his bonus as so many of us have called for.
Sign and share the 38 Degrees petition to stop account closures
Save Our Bank