Protect Insurance Staff From Work Changes, Union Says

By Irene Madongo
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Law360, London (June 25, 2021, 1:45 PM BST) -- Trade unions in the European insurance sector must take urgent action to ensure the rights of workers against increased workloads or jobs moving offshore because of remote working caused by the coronavirus pandemic, an employees' federation has said.

The COVID-19 crisis has had a huge effect on the way work is organized for many people, such as in the European insurance industry, where almost 90% of workers have been working away remotely since March 2020, according to UNI Europa Finance. The group represents seven million workers in the service sector.

Angelo Di Cristo of UNI Europa has warned against potential job losses.

"We must not allow employers to use remote work as an excuse to digitally off-shore jobs," Di Cristo told a meeting of the federation's Japanese affiliates on Monday, according to a statement released on Thursday.

"Fighting to protect the collective rights and conditions of all workers, regardless of their place of work, will be one of the main challenges for trade unions as the remote work trend continues to grow," Di Cristo added.

UNI, whose global headquarters is in Switzerland, pointed to research it commissioned and published this month, which found that the insurance sector is undergoing rapid transformation. Employees must protect themselves against increased workloads.

Pierre Charles Pradier, who produced the research and is associate professor of Economics at Paris Pantheon-Sorbonne University, said insurance workers have been "quick to adapt to working from home, and their flexibility proved vital to the sector."

UNI Europa co-signed an agreement in March with three European trade associations aimed at ensuring that artificial intelligence technology would be rolled out responsibly.

Vic Van Kerrebroeck, a coordinator for UNI Europa, said at the time that signatories will "remain alert to any potential negative impacts from the growing use of AI, including making sure that employees are free from unfair bias and discrimination." 

--Editing by Joe Millis.

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