Stalemate CIS dispute

THERE is no end in sight to the dispute between the Co-operative Insurance Society and Usdaw over terms and conditions affecting 2,000 CIS financial advisers. According to the...

THERE is no end in sight to the dispute between the Co-operative Insurance Society and Usdaw over terms and conditions affecting 2,000 CIS financial advisers.
According to the union, proposed new contracts, which must be signed by October 17th, could leave their members 30 per cent worse off. The advisers this week staged a two-day strike; held a rally in Manchester; lobbied the CIS headquarters and also took their case to the Labour Party conference in Brighton.
Usdaw have called on CIS to take the dispute to binding arbitration and want the society to reconsider their proposal to sack workers who won&#039t sign the new contracts before the October deadline.
The union&#039s CIS national secretary Merdy Briggs told the News: "These hard working advisers have taken industrial action as a last resort after months of talks. We&#039ve always accepted the need for the change, but after months of negotiations the Co-op, who make so much of their ethical trading policy, has offered our members a simple choice – lose money or be sacked.
"These advisers have made millions for the Co-op and the overwhelming vote for strike action proves how angry they are about the cavalier way they&#039ve been treated by a company who claim to be morally led in the way they treat staff."
CIS say the proposed changes are intended to give the society a chance of competing in the increasingly competitive insurance market, but Usdaw believes that demolishing a hard-working workforce will not achieve that aim.
"This is the first time in 35 years that advisers have taken action because at the end of the day they want CIS to be successful too, but not at their expense," added Mr Briggs. "We have tried every possible avenue to avoid this dispute including conciliation talks at ACAS in an attempt find a way forward.
"So we&#039re calling on CIS to agree to binding arbitration at ACAS to resolve this dispute amicably. No-one wants this dispute, but it requires both parties to move a little."
However CIS insist that there is nothing to be gained by going to arbitration and say that the proposals on the table are the only means of ensuring a successful, long-term future for its financial advisers.
Stephan Pater – CIS Chief Operating Officer, General Insurance & Insurance Sales – commented: " We are very disappointed that industrial action has taken place when our proposals are all about preserving jobs and growing our business.
"Usdaw are trying to paint a picture that their members will be worse off as a result of our proposals – this is a completely wrong. Our proposals will see adviser time freed up by around 40 per cent, which combined with the extra investment we are making in terms of new laptop support, more products and increased training will see their earnings potential actually increase.
"A typical adviser earning around &#163 50,000 at present will only need to sell an additional two policies a week to improve their earnings potential and have 40 per cent more time in which to do it."

Added Mr Pater: "We are faced with an unacceptable situation where a minority of people with vested interests are trying to hold the business to ransom, perhaps in the hope that this will lead to us handing out redundancy cheques. If that is the case they are seriously mis-guided. Our proposals are the only means of securing a successful and long-term future for our salesforce.
" We have been totally honest in our discussions with Usdaw; behaved in an entirely responsible manner and have put forward the only model that is economically viable. There is nothing to be gained by going to arbitration."

In this article

Join the Conversation