There will not be a wave of layoffs within the insurance sector, at least for this first half of the year. According to union sources consulted by La Información, the insurers will keep the job. And it is that in this sense, these same sources confirm that the companies have not transferred any comments that suppose a cut in the number of employees, except those that are already underway by AXA Seguros Generales and Catalana Occidente.
In this sense, there would be an end to the speculations that exist in the sector, after these two companies have opened the door to worker departures. Axa Seguros Generales informed CCOO of its intention to open a collective dismissal procedure. Those involved will sit down from February 21 to negotiate the conditions. It wouldn’t be the first. Since 2018, the company has carried out two more within the restructuring it undertook through voluntary departures with compensation and early retirement. In the case of Catalana Occidente, from the union they indicate that they have not yet been summoned to sit down to negotiate the circumstances. In total, the conversion plan would affect 550 workers in a process that would span two years, with the aim of avoiding duplication, the company reported.
Insurance companies would, therefore, distance themselves from the financial sector, although it is also true that the situation of these companies is very different from that faced by the banks, badly affected by the financial crisis, the recovery of the fruit of the process concentration that took place and digitization. In this sense, Mapfre assured, during the press conference to present the results for the 2022 financial year, that its intention is to maintain employment. However, in 2021 an incentivized voluntary redundancy plan was presented that affected 250 workers.
Already during the pandemic years, insurers have shown their commitment to employment as well as reinforcing measures for workers. Some companies, such as Mutua Madrileña, recognized the efforts made by their employees during the health crisis with ‘extra’ pay. This practice has been extended to other companies due to the increase in inflation. Both Mapfre, Generali and Linea Directa have distributed various payments among their employees to compensate them for the rise in prices.
Despite this, insurers face a difficult year. On the one hand, the increase in the accident rate, which was already noted last year, with an increase in the costs of both materials and salaries and that will continue in 2023, but on the other hand, there is also an improvement in income due to the rotation of fixed-income portfolios and a better evolution of premiums in other lines of business, such as health.
Pending the reopening of the agreement
Union sources also indicate that they have as a priority the reopening of the agreement. “In the absence of a response and specification of the date of a second meeting by Unespa, 20 days after the first meeting of the sectorial observatory”, the CCOO urges the adoption of compensatory measures for inflation, beyond those that have adopted by individual companies.
For the union organization, it is crucial to insist that, if measures are not adopted, a loss of 15 points of purchasing power (differential between the agreed increases and the evolution of the CPI) may accumulate until the end of next year for the workforce in the sector. Especially taking into account that the unions have managed to reopen the agreements of the AEB, the CECA and the rural banks, in which a 4.5% increase has been adopted for this year.
The presentation of the results will be key
Union sources also add that insurers continue to present positive numbers. In this sense, the accounts that they present corresponding to the past year will be decisive and will serve as a thermometer of their financial situation. To date, only Mapfre has rendered accounts, with a drop in net profit of 16%, raised premium income by 11% and maintained its commitment to the dividend. Linea Directa also saw profit fall in the third quarter, but premium income increased. In this sense, the insurer pointed out that this improvement in the results had not yet been reflected by having a longer cycle.
On the other hand, Catalana Occidente, which has indeed announced a restructuring of employment, improved its results by 19.3% in the third quarter of 2022, closing with a profit of 430.6 million euros. In the coming weeks the two companies will accompany their annual accounts.