Prudential, the UK's second-largest life insurer, outsourced the jobs of some 450 call-centre workers at its Belfast offices yesterday, striking a deal with Capita Group to take over the management of the operation without the loss of any staff.
The deal will see Capita take over a number of sales and administration services for Prudential's UK business in addition to the work it already does for Prudential's international life assurance business.
Belfast staff were told of the closure of their offices in April after the announcement of a £40m cost-cutting exercise across the UK. Although Prudential guaranteed that employees would be offered positions elsewhere, most of these were in England and would have necessitated relocating.
Amicus, the UK's largest private sector union, praised the deal. David Fleming, its national officer, said: "In April, 500 Prudential staff based in Belfast faced unemployment. Amicus's sustained campaign to protect their jobs means they have a secure job at Capita with their pay conditions and pensions protected."
Prudential's UK chief executive, Nick Prettejohn, said he was glad the company found a solution which did not involve the loss of any jobs.
"This has been a very difficult time for all our staff in Belfast, but throughout this period they have continued to provide an excellent service to our customers," he said. "This outsourcing agreement helps provide them with continued employment and enables us to maintain the highest standards of customer service while delivering the efficiencies and cost savings we announced earlier in the year."
Prudential had originally planned to outsource many of the jobs to Asia, where it employs more than 1,100 people. However, managers had threatened strike action. About 200 other jobs are still set to be cut from its offices in Bristol and from Egg's headquarters in London and it is thought further cuts across the group may follow. However, Prudential has said there will be no compulsory redundancies before the end of the year.