Mutual & Federal may shed local jobs

2008-07-29 00:00

Insurer Mutual & Federal has embarked on a restructuring process at its Pietermaritzburg office, placing the jobs of more than half of its local staff complement under threat.

About 80 people are employed at the local office.

The move comes hard on the heels of an announcement by timber processor PG Bison that it is considering closing its long-established local plant, potentially leaving about 245 people jobless in September.

The Witness learnt from a source at Mutual & Federal that some staff members are facing retrenchment.

In response to questions, Mutual & Federal said it is consulting staff about the proposed restructuring.

The move is part of a national restructuring process at Mutual & Federal that is likely to see 623 jobs being shed.

Employees can choose to be voluntarily retrenched or opt for early retirement.

They can also re-apply for their existing positions or other roles in the business, although they will compete for fewer positions.

The Pietermaritzburg office, established in the early 1970s, contributes about 3,9% to the overall premium income of Mutual & Federal.

The company said in a statement that the only positions that are not affected are those of business development consultants, surveyors, claims assessors, motor engineers and certain specialist roles. All other levels of management and operational staff are affected.

The consultations are expected to continue for several weeks. Facilitators from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will be involved.

“Mutual & Federal has, over the past few months, embarked on a thorough review of the market and the changing dynamics. A thorough examination of our current business practices, our cost-base relative to competitors and operating models has been conducted with a view to designing an optimum business model,” the statement said.

“We have, over the last number of years, also introduced new technologies that will result in operating efficiencies. The aim, as always, is to deliver utmost value to our customers.

“We are providing access to financial advice for all employees free of charge. If employees face retrenchment, we will commence an outplacement process whereby employees will be assisted locally to find alternative employment.

“Workshops for retrenched employees will be provided to assist them with coping and to provide practical support in compiling CVs, conducting interviews and so forth.”

The company noted that local brokers and insured clients will benefit from “enhanced service, faster turn-around times on policy changes and issuing”.

The claims settling service will also remain intact.

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