Union outrage as Co-op ‘streamlines’ services

A row is brewing at the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) after union leaders accused the company of effectively dismissing more than 2,100 financial advisers.

Retail union Usdaw accused CIS of ignoring staff by asking its advisers to accept new terms and conditions or face the sack – a claim strongly denied by CIS.

Last week, CIS announced it was forging ahead with plans to ‘streamline’ its salesforce, despite a union ballot where the majority of advisers rejected the proposals.

David Anderson, CIS chief executive, said: “We acknowledge our salesforce proposals were not accepted by the majority of union members, but we believe these proposals are the only means of securing a long-term and viable future for this channel.”

He said CIS was keen to “improve the effectiveness” of its financial adviser salesforce by cutting down on paperwork and allowing them more time to sell products. The company said it was asking advisers to sign up to new terms and conditions based on the new ways of working.

But John McGarry, Usdaw north west divisional officer, said: “We’re disappointed that a company that trades so heavily on its ethical policy should decide to take this sort of action, especially as we had arranged a meeting at [conciliation service] Acas in August.”

The job restructuring comes less than a month after CIS announced an “ethical engagement policy” to guide the group on issues such as labour rights.

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