STORY OF A PEACEFUL REVOLUTION.
Government, Administration, and Position
of Employees in Retail Societies.
government of a cooperative society is in the hands of the members
assembled in general meeting at times ﬁxed by the rules. The larger
proportion of societies hold meetings quarterly, others half-yearly.
Many societies hold in addition monthly meetings of members which have
no executive power except such as may be delegated to them from time to
time by the general meeting, but are generally useful in giving members
an opportunity for discussing details, points of management, or the
principles and rules of the society; of making suggestions for the
consideration of the committee; and of recommending persons suitable
for election as officers of the society.
The functions of ordinary business meetings 
include the admission of new members; the election of committees and
other responsible officers; the consideration of the reports upon the
society’s business affairs presented by the committee and officers; and
the transaction of any general business of the society.
General Meetings may be called for any special purpose — such as
alteration of rules — but a special meeting cannot transact any
business not speciﬁed in the notice convening it, nor unless the notice
convening it has been given according to the rules. But an ordinary
business meeting may be made special for any purpose of which notice
has been given, provided that such business is not brought on until the
ordinary business is concluded.
democratic rule of “one member, one vote” is in practice in all
distributive societies, but unless exercised by ballot — as is
sometimes the practice in the election of committees — a member can
only exercise his power by attending and voting at meetings of the
society. It is therefore counted the duty of every member to attend the
meetings and take part in the government of his or her society, and in
a few of the older societies a ﬁne is inflicted upon members absenting themselves from the general meeting without good cause.
COMMITTEE OF MANAGEMENT.
management of a society is vested in an elected committee of members,
who may perform their work entirely without fee, or receive only a
small attendance fee; “but it is most desirable, in fixing the scale of
payment, to avoid the likelihood of men trying to get on to the
committee simply for for the sake of the fees. This is a danger to be carefully watched in the co-operative movement.”
On the other hand, it can probably be claimed that no movement has
evoked more devoted and unremitting service from its volunteer workers
than has the co-operative movement.
In the choice of the committee 
probity and sound common-sense are of even greater value than
brilliance, but men possessing a good grasp of ﬁnance, the technique of
business affairs, tact and fair judgement of character, are invaluable
representatives to choose, and are worthy of all conﬁdence.
METHODS OF ELECTION.
methods of election are practised, the most general being nomination
and election by open vote in general meetings, but this system has been
found to have many disadvantages. The Congress at Doncaster, 1903,
passed a resolution advocating the use of the ballot in electing
committees, declaring that “the practice in many societies of
nominating and electing at the same meeting committees of management by
open vote is not calculated to promote wide selection, representative
appointments, free choice, and the best results generally.” The
Congress therefore recommended —
|That elections be conducted in the interval between ordinary
business meetings, by means of nomination papers, bearing the assent of
the candidates, and voting by ballot, for which ample facilities should
In the case of large societies, and those having a number of branches, it was further recommended —
|That a system of district representation be adopted as most
likely to promote greater interest and equity, better knowledge of
candidates’ qualiﬁcations, and a fuller supervision of the society’s
frequently happens that where the general committee is elected by
ballot, the educational committee is still elected by vote at meetings,
with the result that the status of the educational committee is
depreciated to some extent and less interest is shown in the selection
of the right kind of representatives. The Chairman or President of a
society is sometimes elected by the members, sometimes chosen by the
committee from amongst themselves.
In most societies committee
members are eligible for re-election annually, a certain number
retiring in rotation at each general business meeting. In a number of
societies a deﬁnite period of service is ﬁxed by rule — two or three
years — after which the member must retire for one year before again
becoming eligible for election. It is moot point, however,
whether this system is advantageous to the best interests of the
Members are disqualiﬁed for election to committees in
many societies upon any or all of the following grounds:— By being
under the age of twenty-one years; by holding office or place of proﬁt
under the society; by holding less than a speciﬁed number of shares, or
having been a member less than a speciﬁed time; by having relatives
employed by the society; or by failing to purchase a speciﬁed amount of
goods from the society. Bankruptcy is always held to disqualify a
committee-man from continuing in ofﬁce, and in many societies, if a
member or his wife carries on any business similar to that of the
society he is held to be disqualiﬁed for office.
POWERS OF COMMITTEE.
to the approval or authorisation of a general meeting the committee is
empowered to control all business of the society, receive and give
receipts for all moneys due to it, determine all purchases or sales,
and the prices to be paid or charged for the same, and make all
contracts entered into by or on behalf of the society for any of the
objects for which it is formed, including all purchases and contracts
relating to land. The committee should engage or discharge, and ﬁx the
duties and salaries of all employees. In brief, the committee acts for
the society in all things within the scope of its objects, and such
acts are binding on every member of the society as if they had been the
acts of a majority of the members of the society at a general meeting,
with the exception of certain acts which, under the Industrial and
Provident Societies Acts, can only be performed by the members. 
addition to the committee, the responsible officers of a society are
the secretary, the auditor or auditors, and, in some cases, the
THE RESPONSIBLE OFFICERS.
Secretary is sometimes elected from and by the members, especially in
the early years of a society, when wholly or partly gratuitous services
are required. This method of selecting a paid ofﬁcer virtually removes
him from the control of the committee, whose duty it is to oversee and
direct his actions, and is considered by many co-operators to be
unwise, because, in the event of his work proving unsatisfactory, a
secretary so elected can rarely be removed at the instigation of the
committee without disruption and party feeling amongst the members. 
The secretary is responsible for keeping the minutes and records of the
society, and in small societies he is also responsible for keeping the
books and preparing accounts. The election or appointment of officers,
otherwise earnest and honest, but deﬁcient in knowledge of accounts and
business procedure, is the most fruitful source of failure of
societies. Fortunately lukewarm co-operative secretaries are rare, and
dishonest ones rarer still. In large societies accountants and cashiers
are always appointed by the committee.
may be chosen either by the members or by the committee, but this
officer is now generally considered unnecessary, owing to the facilities
for banking and the increased use of banks. 
Industrial and Provident Societies Act requires that the accounts of a
society shall be audited at least once a year. The usual practice in
the movement is to do this half-yearly or quarterly. Auditors may be
chosen from among the members, and in that case two members must be
elected, to retire alternately. The office is extremely responsible,
and should never be entrusted to incompetent or unprincipled persons;
careless and incompetent auditing has resulted in the downfall of so
many societies that Congress has from time to time drawn the attention
of societies to the danger of employing any but certiﬁcated auditors. 
Audit certiﬁcates are granted by the Co-operative Union upon
examination to persons who, having passed the Co-operative Officials
Examination, desire to become auditors. The Co-operative Wholesale
Society has instituted an audit department, the staff of which includes
a number of registered auditors who are competent to act for societies,
and a large number of societies now avail themselves of these
certiﬁcated and registered auditors. The Treasury has also appointed a
number of thoroughly qualiﬁed men — many of whom are co-operators — to
act as Public Auditors. Societies appointing a registered “Public
Auditor” need not appoint a second, as in the case of certiﬁcated or
An auditor is essentially the
representative of the shareholders, and his duty is to ascertain that
the balance sheet presented to the shareholders is a bona ﬁde
and correct statement of the affairs of the society. It is no part of
an auditor’s duty to take the stocks — this duty belonging to the
committee or to stocktakers elected by the members or the committee;
but he must assure himself that they have been properly taken. Neither
is it his business to prepare the books or the balance sheet — this
duty belongs to the secretary or the accountant. The auditor’s duty is
to check every item of receipt and expenditure; to satisfy himself that
all debts owing by or to the society are properly accounted for; that
the rules regarding depreciation are duly carried out; that the
members’ pass books tally with the share ledger; that all other funds,
such as penny bank funds, reserve funds, &c., are accurately
rendered; that all deeds are in perfect order, and that the banking
account is correct. He must also satisfy himself that the proﬁt
declared for the period covered by the balance sheet to be submitted to
the members has been legitimately made, and is recommended for division
strictly in accordance with rule. He is further required by the Act to
verify and sign the Annual Return to the Registrar. He is likewise
bound by the Act to sign a certiﬁcate at the foot of the balance sheet
stating that he has examined the books and vouchers of the society, and
has found them correct or otherwise. In signing this certiﬁcate, an
auditor does more than give the members a comfortable assurance that
all is going well; he pledges his personal honour and probity, and any
wilful departure from strict accuracy in the statement so signed is an
offence under the Act, and renders the auditor liable to a ﬁne not
exceeding ﬁfty pounds.
THE GENERAL MANAGER.
where the offices of secretary and general manager are combined in one
person elected by the members, as is sometimes the case, the general
manager is appointed and governed entirely by the committee. The
success or failure of a society depends enormously upon the character
and capacity of the manager, and the extent of his inﬂuence with the
members — with whom he is necessarily brought into closer contact than
is the committee. At the same time the committee’s responsibility is
not lessened even when the manager proves himself to be the “strong
man” of the society. The committee, and not the manager or other paid
officials, is legally responsible to the members for the proper conduct
of the business of the society, for the amount of gross “profit” ﬁxed,
for the regulation of expenses, for keeping sufficient but not excessive
stocks, and for maintaining the staff and appearance of the shops at a
high level of efﬁciency. In many of the larger societies, departmental
managers, and branch managers are appointed who act under the direct
supervision of the committee. The committee should beware of the
temptations to dishonesty placed in the way of managers and buyers by
means of bribes offered by unscrupulous merchants, and of other
fraudulent methods by which a dishonest manager can cheat the society;
and it should never relax close and detailed supervision over the
management. On the other hand, the importance of giving to responsible
managers an adequate, and even liberal remuneration, should be fully
BONDS AND SECURITY GUARANTEES.
To guard against lax or
fraudulent misuse of the society by responsible officials, it is a
general practice to require from all officials or employees in charge
of moneys a deposit or a ﬁdelity guarantee of a ﬁxed amount, which is
liable to be forfeited in case of proved discrepancy. These may take
the form of shares or a loan deposited with the society under a special
agreement, or of a Fidelity Policy taken up with some insurance
It is general also to require
from the manager or shopman a leakage bond, an instrument under which a
certain speciﬁed sum is forfeited to the society in the event of the
leakage on goods exceeding a stipulated amount. 
method of employing open tills for cash takings is rapidly dying out,
and some system of dealing with cash which shall remove temptation to
peculation is substituted in all large and many small societies. It may
be accepted that some check is necessary to restrain dishonest
employees and to protect honest ones, but the systems in use vary so
greatly that they cannot be usefully discussed here. 
method of checking the individual purchases of members in order to
apportion the dividend is also necessary: of these the old-fashioned
metal checks, stamped with various money values and presented to the
customer in amount according to his purchases, are still in use, but
are rapidly being superseded by paper systems, which serve the double
purpose of showing the members’ purchases and checking the amount of
each employees’ sales.
THE CHIEF CAUSE OF FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY.
“It may be useful to some co-operative
societies and cannot do harm to any, if we try to point out some of
the causes which bring a few societies into ﬁnancial difficulties,” 
wrote William Cooper, the ﬁrst cashier, and afterwards secretary of the
Rochdale Pioneers’ Society, and probably the movement has possessed few
wiser advisers than he upon the principles of sound co-operative
business. These causes of difficulty Mr. Cooper enumerated thus:—
lst, The desire of directors to appear before the members with a favourable report showing large gains;
members of young societies expecting that their society should pay as
great a dividend as is paid by older and well-established societies; and
the want of practical experience and knowledge which would enable the
directors, secretary, and auditors to make out a reliable statement, in
which there can be no doubt that the dividend declared is bona ﬁde proﬁt.
the methods essential to ﬁnancial soundness he enumerates as of chief
importance, “stocks taken at cost price, or present purchaseable market
value, and all other stock, whether ﬁxed or otherwise, in the same way,
that is, rather under than over their real value.”
I think that
if secretaries and ofﬁcers keep clearly before their minds which items
stand in favour of their society, and which stand against it, they will
experience little difficulty in making out a true and reliable report.
Young societies miss their way, if they do miss it at all, chieﬂy in
the stocks or debts. Therefore, it is of the greatest importance that
they make sure that no stocks are over-valued, and they should make
themselves equally certain that any goods sold or taken in stock, which
are not paid for at the time, must be set down against the society as
This sage advice may be applied with equal force to-day, and it cannot do harm to any to bear it constantly in mind.
METHODS OF BOOKEEPING.
any person aspiring to be a responsible ofﬁcer of a society may
acquaint himself with the approved methods of co-operative bookkeeping
by attending one of the classes held under the auspices of the
Co-operative Union, and studying the manuals provided by the Union. 
There is still great diversity in the methods of presenting the
accounts, and it does not come within the province of this book either
to illustrate the variety or to lay down precise rules for making up a
balance sheet. It may, however, be accepted as a desirable ideal that
the form should be as simple as possible, consistently with a clear
statement of the main accounts, namely, (1) the Cash Account; (2) Proﬁt
and Loss Account; (3) Capital Account (Funds and Effects).
addition to these it is desirable to show (4) a Trade Account, and (5)
an Expenses Account, these exhibiting in a fair amount of detail the
exact position of the various departments and branches of the society.
The education committee should render a separate account of the
expenditure of the educational grant; and if a building department is
in operation a separate account should also be given for this.
members should be able to put their ﬁnger on any weak spot, and also to
know in what direction the strength of the society lies. This is
possible only when the form of the balance sheet is easily understood
by persons of ordinary intelligence. Many societies’ balance sheets
exhibit a mysterious confusion of ﬁgures, bewildering to the expert and
utterly incomprehensible to the average member.
OTHER CAUSES OF WEAKNESS.
difficulties are not, however, the only pitfalls into which a society
can stumble. Many others are indicated in various chapters of this
book. Each phase of the movement has its peculiar susceptibilities to
certain weaknesses, and some of those to which distributive
Co-operation is most liable may be touched upon here, while others,
such as the danger of credit, are sufficiently serious to require
treatment amongst the problems of Co-operation. 
of any sort is a weakness to be constantly guarded against. It may
arise at any time and from any cause, such as the dismissal of a
popular employee, contentions between the management committee and the
educational committee, or party intrigues to secure the election of
certain committee-men. Over-building, or the starting of new
departments or branches before the society is ﬁrmly established, render
a society liable to times of great diﬂiculty. Overlapping amongst
societies is a fruitful source of unhealthy competition and consequent
weakening of principle, if not actually detrimental to material
progress. Congress has from time to time condemned this practice and
urged arbitration, and the adoption of a ﬁxed boundary lined. 
EXTERNAL SOURCES OF WEAKNESS.
from causes which operate within the movement itself, and tend to
restrict its growth and full development, and in some cases to cause
partial or permanent local failure, there are certain external forces
which also limit and hamper its expansion. These need be only brieﬂy
indicated here. Mrs. Sidney Webb, in the concluding chapter of The
Co-operative Movement, points out certain limitations imposed by the
social and economic conditions which prevail in the kingdom, and which
the most enthusiastic co-operator realises can be overcome, if overcome
at all, only by an extremely gradual process of leavening.
These, roughly enumerated, include, amongst others —
The class divisions of society, which give us on either hand extremes
of poverty and of wealth. Poverty and irregular habits form a lower
limit to the growth of co-operation. Fastidiousness and indifference
bred of luxury constitute a higher limit to the desire or capacity for
democratic self-government. 
administrative limits imposed by national and municipal enterprises,
unsuited to the control of a purely industrial democracy — means of
transit, and the provision of commodities of compulsory consumption,
such as water, light, and sanitary safeguards.
(3) The limitations of international interchange of commodities. 
(4) The restrictions imposed by ancient systems of land tenure.
addition to these larger causes it may be observed that the success of
Co-operation is much less marked in large centres of population such as
London, than in industrial towns or districts having a settled staple
industry. Efforts to overcome the difficulties arising from the
migratory habits of urban populations have engaged the attention of the
movement for many years.
THE PEOPLE’S SOCIETY.
most notable effort to adapt Co-operation to London conditions was the
establishment, in 1895, of “The People’s Society.” This society was the
outcome of an inquiry set on foot by the joint action of the
Co-operative Union, and the Co-operative Wholesale Society, to
ascertain the causes of failure of Co-operation in London. 
The committee appointed by them to consider the subject, reported that
some modiﬁcation of the Rochdale system seemed advisable in order to
encourage the growth of Co-operation in the unfriendly soil of London.
It was therefore proposed to establish a society upon the following lines:—
(1) That a fund should be created for special propaganda in selected neighbourhoods.
That a society should be registered, with rules giving the Co-operative
Wholesale Society control, and, so long as such control lasted, the
Wholesale should guarantee the security of moneys invested therein by
(3) That stores should be
opened in suitable neighbourhoods, the general management of which
should be in the hands of a central representative committee, with
local supervisory and educational committees.
That it should be possible for a store desirous of becoming independent
to take over its share capital and become a separate society.
chief advantages of the scheme were thought to be: greater permanence
in management; uniform dividend over the whole of the stores,
irrespective of their several savings, and the opportunity for a member
moving from one part of London to another, to continue his membership
and dealings wherever a store was situated.
The scheme made
considerable headway at ﬁrst, over 3,000 members being enrolled, and
twelve branches opened in as many districts; the total annual trade
reached by the People’s Society was between £20,000 and £25,000. The
experiment was watched with close and critical interest, but failed to
attain sufficient success to warrant its continuance, and in 1900 the
society was formally wound up. Of the twelve stores established, eight
were closed and four continued as independent societies. One of these,
Willesden and District, is doing well, with a trade of over £300 per
week (1903); the other three struggled on for some months and were then
The main causes of the failure of the “People’s”
appear to have been a certain lack of elasticity on the part of the
Wholesale Society — its chief promoters — and a considerable amount of
local disunion on the part of members and committees, some of whom
obtained positions of prominence without learning the ﬁrst lessons of
co-operation and democratic self-government — the lesson that “the
common good of each must be the common good of all.”
It may be
said, however, that in spite of the failure of the People’s Society,
Co-operation in London gained from the experiment an impetus from which
it is now receiving beneﬁt in renewed activity and enthusiasm on the
part of the older existing societies.
POSITION OF EMPLOYEES.
From time to time the
attention of the movement has been drawn to the position of the
employees of distributive societies, and some severe strictures have
been passed upon what is undoubtedly a weak spot in co-operative
organisation — not necessarily an inherent weakness perhaps, but one
requiring a far closer supervision and more corrective measures than
the movement at present seems ready to give or to apply.
regarding the conditions of employment within the movement is not
abundant, and as a subject of study has never received an adequate
share of practical attention.
The total number of persons employed in distributive Co-operation was 52,470  at the end of 1902, and these have been grouped and described as follows:— 
(a) Secretaries, who “must understand the principles of Co-operation.”
(b) Managers and Sub-Managers —
whose faithful services the material progress of the movement
principally rests, and from whose unfaithful services the movement
experiences its greatest drawbacks.
We ﬁnd this group subdivided
into a large number of clever workmen, who are at the same time most
devoted and enlightened Co-operators, made so by an inherent natural
quality of mind and heart in most cases — by long service in the
movement in others; a still larger number of clever workmen and good
servants, but perfectly ignorant or indifferent Co-operators; and a
certain number who are neither clever workmen nor good Co-operators.
(c) Shop assistants and Clerks.
group includes the class from whom the movement should look to draw its
future chiefs of departments, secretaries and managers, and how do we
ﬁnd it constituted? Chieﬂy of young men and women, who have spent from
a few months to a number of years in the service. Young people of
ordinary intelligence (the movement gives but little scope as yet for
more than ordinary intelligence), headless of anything beyond the
present advantage of shorter hours, etc., and having ever before their
eyes the possibility of having to sever their connection with the
co-operative movement at a week’s notice.
(d) Junior Shop and Office Hands.
knows what these young people are lads and lasses of all degrees of
tractability and all shades of character, all of them much more ready
to laugh than to think, and hating dry facts like poison. Embryo
general managers . . . . plastic material, out of which the co-operative
movement may shape what it will.
With the exception of secretaries, and some managers, these all serve upon the short tenure of a week’s notice, and —
|The movement says in effect, we desire our employees to be
honest, capable, and civil; to be at the beck and call of a dozen or so
direct masters, and a few hundreds, or perhaps thousands, indirect
masters and mistresses; to accept with astonished and profound
gratitude the concessions of half-holidays and shorter hours of labour
we make to them; to take oftentimes small pay for drudging service
under incompetent committees, and to go elsewhere if these conditions
are not to their liking; |
the main, employees are recruited from the ranks of store members’ sons
and daughters, but a proportion, more particularly of trained workers,
are constantly being recruited from the outside competitive trade.
Others are ex-committee-men who have often no technical knowledge of
the business of buying and selling, but whose trustworthiness has
frequently proved the salvation of many distressed societies. It is
frequently charged against the co-operative employee that the service
rendered is not so smart and attentive as it is customary to ﬁnd in
competitive shops. Mr. Thomas Wood notes, in a paper read at a
conference of secretaries,  “a lack of earnestness on the part of employees in their work,” and affirms that —
|A sense of honesty in this direction requires to be
inculcated if we wish to secure economy and efficiency and to improve
personal character and integrity . . . . Laxity of attention to time and
duty will not be tolerated in private commercial ﬁrms because personal
interest is alive to economy, and therefore causes strict supervision
over all the staff. With co-operative societies, because of their
representative organisation and control, the direct incentive to the
supervision mentioned does not exist, and therefore it is not usually
so strict, consequently it behoves us to create an esprit de corps,
if I may so term it, a voluntary individual integrity, rather than a
forced one derived from having to be continually watched. In the one
case there is the tendency to servility, in the other to true manliness.|
Mr. William Maxwell, in a paper read at Bristol Congress, 1893, 
dealt with salutary candour with the hours, wages, status, and
conditions of service then prevailing in co-operative societies, and
brought out clearly the weak points on both sides, usefully epitomising
the dangers most to be guarded against —
original idea,” he says, “when promising to write this
paper, was to advocate proﬁt-sharing to all our employees as a means to
induce them to take a greater interest in our work. While of opinion it
would have a splendid effect in this direction, still it would be a
mockery to talk to many of them of proﬁt-sharing till they have shorter
hours and better remuneration. I do not forget that the average hours
set down for co-operative employees are four or ﬁve less per week than
the employees of private traders, and for this many of our storemen are
truly grateful. Nor am I unmindful of the fact that in many stores (not
in all) they get a week’s annual holiday, exclusive of local holidays.
I also cheerfully admit that very many employees I have spoken to are
happy and contented with the conditions of their position. But, even
with this class, you will rarely ﬁnd interest or enthusiasm for
co-operation. The young men say that the chances of promotion, unless
in a quickly developing society, are few . . . . The practice of
bringing in managers and chiefs of departments from the outside has a
most discouraging, if not demoralising, effect upon our employees. Our
stores should now be able to train a body of men that in time would be
able to ﬁll any position in the movement. If this idea was more closely
kept to, we would not only have able practical men, but under better
conditions enthusiastic co-operative managers and shopmen. It must not
be forgotten either that as our movement spreads out the chances of our
shopmen starting in business for themselves are getting gradually less.
It is also a fact that our success has embittered the merchants against
us to such an extent, that many of them refuse to employ anyone who has
served in our stores. Thus the prospects of our employees are not
getting brighter in proportion to the success of our cause.|
is clear that the yearning of many of our storemen for the open market
arises largely from the want of the co-operative idea, and possibly in
some cases of an over-estimate of their own ability. This class of
storemen are always certain that their knowledge and administrative
powers are not getting free play, under the guidance of a committee who
desire that all goods shall come through co-operative sources. Such men
frequently cause inﬁnite trouble to committee and membership. Cases are
not infrequent where they have deﬁed a portion of the committee, the
membership taking sides for and against the storeman, the society being
rent in twain; and all because the employee had never been impressed
with the true meaning of co-operation. Nor are committees entirely free
from blame in connection with the difficulties in which the storeman
sometimes ﬁnds himself involved. Some gentlemen on the evening of their
election to committee become full-ﬂedged drapers, grocers, bakers, and
ﬁnanciers. Experience does not count for much with this (happily small)
class of administrators. If it were not so serious, it would be amusing
to watch them taking the role of the merchant without a single
Mr. A. Hewitt, secretary to the Amalgamated Union of Co-operative Employés, 
writing in 1903, bears testimony to the fact that these outspoken words
“did much to arouse committees to a sense of their duty towards the
servants of their societies,” and there appears to have been going on
since a gradual reduction in working hours, a general extension of
weekly half-holidays and summer holidays, and some appreciable raising
Particulars supplied by Mr. Hewitt as to the minimum
and maximum rates of wages paid to employees, in certain positions,
over 21 years of age  show that in 159 societies,
with a total membership of about 640,000, and employing nearly 15,000
persons, the mean minimum wage paid to carters and vanmen was 25s. 2d.,
and the mean maximum 29s. 8d. per week. For countermen, the average
minimum was 23s. 5d., and the average maximum 29s. 9d., while for
branch managers the average minimum was 30s. and the average maximum
The highest rates of wages paid to all three classes of
employees was in the northern counties, where too the average working
hours are shortest. The lowest rates for branch managers were paid in
the north — west midland counties, for countermen in Yorkshire, and for
carters and vanmen in the southern and south-western counties.
Sixteen societies, of which thirteen are in the northern counties, have adopted a minimum rate of wages for employees
over 21 years of age, ranging from 25s. to 29s. per week, while 64.
other societies have adopted a minimum rate of 24s. per week.
Hewitt also notes that some 514 distributive societies now give the
whole or some of their employees a week’s holiday in the year without
loss of wages. The practice of closing early on one half-day in the
week has been general throughout the movement for many years.
illiberal attitude towards the employees reacts upon a society to a
serious extent in the direction of lowering the standard of efficiency,
and inducing indifference and discontent, even where it does not tend to
foster sharp practices or downright dishonesty. The undoubted evils
thus brought about require more robust tonics than sentimental appeals
to the employee’s loyalty and instinct for self-sacriﬁce, although
these are not necessarily ineffectual. The gradual adoption of such
remedies as a minimum standard of wages, (b) the shortest
possible hours of labour, (c) some deﬁnite and practical method of
training young employees, both in the technique of their trade and in
the principles of Co-operation, (d) an increased desire to ﬁnd and keep
within the movement men and women of ability, and (e) the encouragement
of a better understanding between committees and employees, should be
looked upon as parts of the forward programme of the movement.
are the main lines along which Retail Co-operation has moved since
1844. Statistics regarding the number of members, capital, and trade
will be found in the general tables and charts given in the Appendix.
Table (1) it will be seen that the proportion of co-operators to the
population of the United Kingdom has steadily increased from 1.8 in
1883 to 4.7 in 1902. Although it is reasonable to take the number of
individuals affected as four times greater than the actual number of
members there registered, the proportion of co-operators to the
population is still small, and leaves much room for growth.
1. Model Rules of Co-operative Union.
2. Working-Men Co-operators. Acland and Jones. Chapter III., revised edition.
3. In a large majority of societies women as well as men members are eligible for committee.4. E.g., Amendment of rules, or dissolution of the society.
5. Working-Men Co-operators, Chapter III., page 52, revised edition.
6. See Chapter XX., page 168.
7. Congress Report, 1903, page 338.
8. See page 104.
The Co-operative Insurance Society Limited undertakes this branch of
insurance, and is much used in the movement. For forms of bonds see
Industrial and Provident Societies Act.
10. See page 82, footnote “Leakage.”
11. See the Manual on Systems of Check, published by the Co-operative Union. Price 4d
12. The Co-operator, November, 1862.
13. See Chapter XXIII., page 208.
14. See Chapter XXV., page 232.
15. Congress Report, 1904.
16. The Co-operative Movement. Beatrice Potter. Page 226.
17. See also Chapter XVII., page 141.
18. From 1881 to 1892, 78 societies started in London failed during the same period.
19. See Appendix, Table (2).
20. Should Co-operative Employés Understand the Principle of the Movement? Co-operative Union Pamphlet, by Catherine Webb.
22. April, 1904: Expenses and Depreciation, and their Application to Co-operative Societies, by Mr. Thomas Wood, F.C.A. Co-operative Union Pamphlet.
23. The Relation of Empleyés to the Co-operative Movement. Co-operative Union Pamphlet.
24. See Chapter XXI., page 181.
25. See Appendix, Table (4).