Friday 28 October 2016

RSA documents show it is seeking to lay off twice number first indicated

Published 07/05/2015 | 02:30


TROUBLED insurer RSA is to lay off double the number it previously indicated.

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The insurer had told this newspaper it was laying off up to 59 people, but it has now emerged that it is seeking up to 120 redundancies, with roles to go from various functions.

It comes after the firm, that had to be repeatedly bailed out by its British parent, shed 100 staff last year.

Motorists have been hit by a 14pc rise in premiums across all insurers in the last year, partly as a result of the problems at RSA, and also due to problems at other insurers which tried to compete with it.

Documents obtained by the Irish Independent show that RSA plans to lay off 120 people, after independent facilitator Martin King made recommendations to management and unions on a redundancy deal.

The Irish company has received a total of almost €400m made up of various capital injections from its British parent after huge accounting irregularities emerged at the end of 2013.

The scandal wiped 30pc off the RSA share price on the London Stock Market, and group chief executive Stephen Hester has been engaged in an uphill struggle to get the company back on track. A number of senior Irish staff left the company.

The documents seen by this newspaper outline the scale of the restructuring being undertaken in Ireland, called Programme Novus by the insurer. There is also mention of a Diem restructuring programme.

A letter from Colm Quinlan, regional officer of Unite, outlines how a proposed voluntary redundancy programme will see up to 120 positions going.

The group employed around 900 last year, before downsizing.

"This proposal envisages a potential total of approximately 120 job losses.." Mr Quinlan's letter to staff says.

This number of lay-offs does not include for possible job losses from the relocation of the Galway facility, the documents make clear.

A spokesman for the company insisted last week that just 59 were to go, dismissing questions from this newspaper that indicated that more than 100 jobs were going.

A redundancy deal, hammered out by independent facilitator Martin King, has made recommendations on how to proceed.

The letter from Mr Quinlan states that the management of RSA had sought to "significantly reduce the terms" on offer.

Under the deal now agreed, the departing staff are to get six weeks page per year of service, according to a separate internal RSA document.

This includes statutory redundancy entitlements. Pay is to be defined as base salary as at March 1, 2014. There is a ceiling of two years' basic salary, or €150,000, whichever is the lesser.

Mr Quinlan of Unite had no comment.

The documents state that no agreement has been reached between unions and management on the relocation of jobs from the Galway operation of RSA.

"If the new location is outside Galway and a significant number of jobs in Galway are impacted, a further set of negotiations is required," the Unite letter states.

Asked about the discrepancies between the RSA Ireland figures provided to this newspaper and those in the internal documents, a spokesman stated in an emailed that it reconfirms that "no final decisions (and specifically in terms of location) have been taken on this matter.

"As such we were not in a position to provide external comment on same as to do so would simply be speculative. We would always provide any such final decisions to our staff before making any external comment."

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