Financial advisers at the Cooperative Insurance Society have started a 48 hour strike to protest the enforcement by the company of new contracts that they claim will make them worse off financially.

Financial advice staff have walked out for two days to protest the Manchester, UK-based insurer’s new employment conditions, which trade union Usdaw argues will make them 30% worse off. In response CIS, part of the wider Co-operative group that is known for its ethical approach to business, says it is disappointed with the staff action and that the new contracts were about safeguarding the future of the company and its sales and advice team.

The new, hotly disputed, working plan will see the affected employees’ administrative tasks of collecting premiums and payment deliveries switched to a new dedicated team, giving the sales staff more time to sell policies. However, both the employees and Usdaw argue that the new working conditions will effectively reduce the salaries of those affected. Staff have until October 17 to agree the new working conditions or they will face being made redundant, according to the union.

Usdaw has called for arbitration in the matter. Meanwhile, around 500 striking employees are expected to march on the company’s headquarters in Manchester.

The changes proposed by CIS will affect about 2,000 employees nationwide.