The proposed sale of Co-op Insurance is expected to result in 200 job losses

Trade union Unite, which represents Co-op Group employees, is outraged at the firm’s decision to sell its Co-op Insurance arm to Markerstudy, describing the proposed sale as “a betrayal of the ethical philosophy and principles of the Co-operative movement”.

Unite stated that the sale will result in around 200 job losses, while the remaining 800 Co-op Insurance staff members will lose their independent union representation upon joining Markerstudy, as the firm has said it will not engage with the union.

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – colloquially known as TUPE – process is expected to complete this month.

Ritchie James, regional secretary for the North West at Unite, said: “The sale of Co-op Insurance to an organisation which intends to de-recognise Unite is outrageous and beyond belief.

“Trade unions and the Co-operative movement have a long and rich history which has ensured positive industrial relations for many years. The suggestion that employee voices in Manchester can be silenced through a sale to Markerstudy is inconceivable.

“The Co-op cannot hide away from the consequences of their decision to sell to such an organisation. Ahead of the sale, Unite has made it clear to both parties that trade union recognition is not on the table. The union will not stand aside and will continue to fight to make sure our members within Co-op Insurance are protected and treated fairly.”


Unite national officer Rob MacGregor further described the sale as “immoral”.

He said: “Has Co-op Insurance forgotten its principles in the rush to make a quick buck?

“This insurance company has long traded on its ethics and yet is now driving a coach and horses through the values of the Co-operative movement. There is only one word for this proposed sale, immoral.

“Unite will not accept this attack on our members’ rights for a voice at work. How can the Co-op agree to sell its workforce to an aggressive union busting organisation with no regard to its founding ethos?”

Unite has written to Co-op Insurance and Markerstudy to outline its objections to the loss of trade union recognition as a result of the sale process. It said that it will oppose all compulsory redundancies arising from the sale and will work to protect members’ terms and conditions.

Insurer response

A spokesperson at Co-op Insurance emphasised that the firm is not exiting the UK insurance market – in fact, the business is looking to grow its footprint in the insurance sector. The firm added that the sale is for its underwriting business, Co-op Insurance Society General Insurance, but that this will not impact its product development and marketing company, Co-op Insurance Services, which it is retaining.

The spokesperson said: “Our colleagues have been our utmost priority when choosing a suitable buyer for the sale of our insurance underwriting business.

“It remains the case that this sale will achieve the best outcome for our colleagues and members going forwards and provides the basis for the Co-op to significantly increase its insurance footprint across the UK.”

Meanwhile Tanya Gerrard-White, director of HR and talent development at Markerstudy Group, said the firm has engaged with Unite’s representatives throughout the sale process so far. 

She added: ”During the course of our purchase of Co-op Insurance we have engaged with representatives from Unite to share and discuss proposals to minimise the impact of the transaction on Co-op colleagues.

”We have been committed to considering all alternatives and through ongoing communication with the Co-op leadership team, we have successfully reduced the number of compulsory redundancies. We have provided a voluntary redundancy scheme, outplacement assistance, confidential support and transparent communication.

”Markerstudy is proud to have featured consecutively in the ’Sunday Times Best Company to Work For’ lists and [is] honoured to have repeatedly won the Investors in People Gold Champion accolade. In order to achieve this impartial recognition, our colleagues are independently surveyed. Their voices and input is of the utmost importance to our group, as demonstrated by the wealth of initiatives that encourage recognition, nurture personal development and support the health and wellbeing of every individual.

”We look forward to welcoming Co-op Insurance colleagues into our organisation and sharing with them the benefits and opportunities afforded by freedom of speech and autonomy.”