Author Archive

Widespread redundancies in AXA Claims…

Yesterday’s announcement in claims of the loss of 280 roles is extremely disappointing, even though this is mitigated by around 70 vacancies that will not be now filled being included in the total. Unite in AXA have been involved in a lengthy and detailed consultation process over the last few months regarding the business review challenging the company plans robustly. 

Whilst the business case is understandable, we are extremely disappointed that over the last few years AXA Insurance allowed the problems within Claims to grow to a point that now over 200 hard working and dedicated staff are facing redundancy through no fault of their own. 

The timing of the announcement and job losses is also disappointing given the negative impact on the jobs market due to Coronavirus. AXA have confirmed that in addition to the normal support staff at risk of redundancy receive, they are also engaging with other companies who are looking to recruit to facilitate impacted workers finding new jobs.

If you are a member at risk of redundancy, please speak to your local union rep if you need help or support. A list can be found here.

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Working From Home Survey…

Professor Phil Taylor, University of Strathclyde is currently conducting some research on Working from home (WFH). He is asking office-based workers to complete a survey.

Professor Phil Taylor said: “As you know there is a big push for a Return to Work (RTW). Trade unions are clear – workers should not RTW until they have complete confidence that it is safe to do so. This survey will capture workers’ concerns regarding RTW. It will also gather crucial data on your experiences as unions develop bargaining agendas that represent members’ on a range of issues – health and safety, mental ill-health, pressure of work, work life balance etc. Many thanks in advance for your help with this vital research.”

You can access the survey here.

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Increased working hours plan…

Members in AXA Teesside will now have seen management’s proposal to  increase working hours there from 35 to 37.5 per week.

The company are looking to extend what they introduced in Birmingham two years ago, ie. new starters on 37.5 hours a week and a voluntary increase in hours by individuals with pay increased proportionally.

The local Unite in AXA reps have now begun to engage with staff locally to enable us to consult further with the company.

If you work in Teesside and have a query, please contact one of your local reps.

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Return to the office…

The limited re-opening of AXA offices continues with Birmingham, Glasgow, Haverhill and Weybridge due to reopen with limited capacity over the next several weeks, with all those returning to the office doing so on a voluntary basis. As with all previous reopenings we have engaged actively with the company on your behalf, ensuring that health and safety is front and centre of the decision making process.

Whilst for many working from home will continue to be the norm for the time being, AXA are looking to ensure there is no drastic drop off in productivity. Consequently it may be in some business areas, where working from home has had a demonstrable negative impact on productivity, and if there is capacity in your local office (subject to social distancing requirements etc), that you may be asked to return to the office for some days a week.

This will only occur if your manager has demonstrated the necesity to do this due to a reduction in productivity.

If you have concerns about returning to the office (eg, you normally use public transport and have concerns over using it safely) or have child care issues or health issues, then in the first instance you should have a conversation with your manager who should address them and hopefully suggest ways of alleviating your concerns or problems.

If you are not satisfied with your manager’s response, then please contact your local union reps who will work with you to try and reach a solution.

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AXA offices reopening…

Monday will see AXA begin the process of re-opening some of its offices following the lockdown. In AXA Insurance these offices are Ipswich, Middlesbrough and Morecambe and less than 50 staff will be returning across the three sites. Additionally Ipswich and Middlesbrough will be used for some training before those staff return to working from home.

Unite in AXA have been heavily involved in consultation with the company over these reopenings and our primary focus has been on the health and safety of those returning. We have seen the in-depth risk assessments for the three sites and shared these with the lead union reps at each site for their input and challenge.

We have ensured that AXA provide masks to be worn by those that wish, checked social distancing protocols not only within the buildings but also outside in car parks etc. all to make sure those returning are kept as safe as possible.

Those returning will have to abide by certain rules not only for their own safety, but also that of their colleagues and we would encourage any members in this first tranche of returnees to make sure they know the rules and follow them.

The returning staff are those that have, for various reasons, been unable to work from home during the lockdown. AXA has confirmed that no employee is being forced to return to the office and if they do not feel comfortable at this stage, they will not be made to. If you are told to, or feel pressured by your manager to return to the office before you are comfortable, please speak to your local union rep.

This is the first phase of the re-opening process and the next stage with more sites re-opening is likely to be within the next few weeks depending on the success of phase one and the relaxing of Government guidlines. However, again, any further re-openings will be limited numbers of people wise and we are told on a voluntary basis.

Whilst social distancing protocols remain in place, it is not physically possible for the vast majority of workers to return to normal office work in AXA, so working from home for the majority is the new norm for the majority for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind we have been extremely vocal on the issue of AXA supplying the necessary equipments beyond just laptops and phones to allow you to work from home safely and comfortably. Hopefully the frustrating problems many have experienced have now been sorted and chairs, screens, desks etc are now being shipped to workers who need them. If you are still  experiencing problems having your requirements agreed, please speak to your local Unite in AXA rep.

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A message from Unite Finance and Legal sector national officers

Unite finance and legal sector officers and workplace representatives are continuously working to protect you during these difficult times. Unite has three priorities for the workforce across your sector during the current health crisis: 

  1. Your health and mental well-being
  2. Your income and
  3. Your job security.

Your union representatives will continue to work day in and day out to protect you throughout the pandemic.

However, Unite understands that in some workplaces like call centers, processing offices and banking branches there are many challenges around social distancing. Unite has heard from colleagues who are fearful about the easing of lock-down conditions and the eventual return to workplaces. Unite stands shoulder to shoulder with you. This is not the time for a return for business as usual within the finance sector.

If you have concerns about current or changing working practices in your workplace Unite is here to support you. Remember you have the right to work safely and to step away if you’re asked to work unsafely. Please do not hesitate to contact your local representative or regional office so that your union can take action to protect you.

The Unite the union message is clear – your wellbeing, your income and your job security are the only things that matter. There can be no return to business as usual within the finance sector.

You can view the latest news from Unite at: www.unitetheunion.org/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19-advice/

Dominic Hook and Rob MacGregor
Unite national officers

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Working from home… with kids!

Everyone is finding working from home challenging and sometimes quite stressful, even more so if you are also trying to juggle the demands of small children no longer at school or in nursery/child minding.

By and large we think that most employees and managers are considerate of the additional pressures their colleagues with children are facing at present, but unfortunately we have been approached by some members about negative comments being said or posted about them on social media when childcare needs impacts their ability to do their job, especially those whose role involves customer-centric shifts.

To be clear this is unacceptable and is bullying. We have raised this issue with HR and they agree it is unacceptable. If you find colleagues are making negative comments about your issues balancing childcare responsibilities and work, you should speak to your manager. If they do not resolve the issue speak to your local Unite rep and we will help address the bullying.

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We need more kit… now!

As have said previously AXA’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and speed at which it managed to get us all working from home with new laptops was praiseworthy, reducing the risk of infection to staff in as timely a manner as possible. 

Unfortunately since then, the follow up to provide additional equipment to make working from home easier and safer has been less speedy. Many members have contacted us saying how their working arrangements at home are unsatisfactory due to the lack of facilities the have. Employees have reported to us being hunched over laptops sat of coffee tables, sat in an armchair all day, using an ironing board as a desk and even working from their bed! Others have reported eye strain issues with only having a small laptop screen when normally they use two monitors.

Not only does this negatively impact the abilities of us to do the work we are trying to do, it also has a negative impact on our health with the increased risk of back problems and eyesight to name just two.

It is now two weeks since AXA told employees it was looking into this but nothing much appears to have been done and we have told the company that it must prioritise the issue of lack of suitable desks, chairs, screens, keyboards, mouse etc for employees working from home, and they need to do this in the same speedy manner as they rolled out laptops.

Additionally we have raised the issue were staff have attempted to resolve issues of kit their managers have not by dipping into their own pocket to by a mouse or other equipment just so they can do their job more efficiently. A multi-national company the size of AXA should not expect its employees to buy the equipment neeeded to do the job they are employed to and we fully expect AXA to recompense any reasonable purchases.

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International Workers’ Day (#ThankAWorker)

This May Day (Friday 1 May), let us show our appreciation for all those key workers that are looking after us in these difficult times. #ThankAWorker

This May Day our usual planned events can no longer take place, but it’s more important than ever to mark the contribution that workers make every day.

This pandemic show us how much we owe frontline workers. In health, in care and in all our vital services. They are the best of us and we say thank you.

Here’s what you can do today

Step 1: Post a short video on social media thanking a worker who’s made a difference to you.

Step 2: Then nominate 3 of your family members or friends to also thank a worker in their own video.

Step 3:Tag them in your post and use hashtags #mayday and #ThankAWorker.

You could choose your postie, shop worker, someone in the NHS, delivery driver, food worker or any other frontline worker…

Please spread the word now so as many people as possible can be ready to post their videos to mark the day. Encourage your friends, family members and colleagues to take part. Save this shareable graphic to let others know what to do. 

These workers are risking their lives to ensure we can be safe at home. The very least we can do is #ThankAWorker. 

If you don’t have time to take the action, simply download these social images graphic 1graphic 2 and post it on your feed.

It is important that everyone tells their own story of appreciation so if you have a special thanks to make, simply post your message using #ThankAWorker

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Internet outages…

A number of members have contacted us about the various internet outages across the country, notably for Virgin Media, BT and Sky customers and the impact on them working from home.

Recent Sky Broadband outages

We have spoken to HR about this and they have confirmed that it should be treated the same as if you were working in the office and there was an internet or other failure, and staff are not expected to make the time lost suffered by an outage or take holiday.

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