Pru stands firm on redundancy proposals

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The Independent Online
UNION representatives have failed to dissuade Prudential Corporation from pressing ahead with a sales force reorganisation that will cause 2,000 redundancies, writes Paul Durman.

Dave Parsons, of the National Union of Insurance Workers, said yesterday: 'It will be a disaster for the policyholder, for the company and for our members.'

The union sought the aid of a mediator appointed by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, but the insurance giant has made no substantive changes to its plans.

Mr Parsons said: 'Instead of entering that process in good faith with a view to reaching a negotiated settlement, they just callously used it to say they have gone through the procedure.'

Prudential intends to create a team of 1,800 people whose main job will be to collect premiums. This will allow its traditional agents to spend more time selling new business.

The union says the collectors' jobs will be short-lived because it believes the Pru is seeking to shed business collected door-to-door, its traditional bedrock. The company increased its minimum premium to pounds 20 a month last year, considerably higher than its home service rivals.

'The real customer contact the Prudential has had . . . will disappear,' Mr Parsons said. 'It will lose its customer base.' The union also fears a large increase in sales force turnover.

'Our members will lose because they will not have the traditional trust,' Mr Parsons said. The union had proposed a gradual move towards increased selling by agents.