Tuesday 25 July 2017

Aviva staff may never find work in the insurance industry again

Young
members of Aviva's staff in the
capital struggle to take in the
devastating news
Young members of Aviva's staff in the capital struggle to take in the devastating news

Anne-Marie Walsh and Graham Clifford

HUNDREDS of Aviva workers who are now facing redundancy may never work in the insurance industry again.

HUNDREDS of Aviva workers who are now facing redundancy may never work in the insurance industry again.



Experts last night predicted that there would be few employment opportunities for those who lose their jobs next year and that they would be forced to turn to other sectors for work.



The company announced yesterday that 950 jobs would go over two years from March next year. A further 300 may be outsourced.



The bleak prospects for workers emerged as staff issued a stark warning to the troubled insurer that it may face strikes within weeks.



Aviva has held out the possibility of opening centres of excellence here to service the UK market, which it said could "mitigate" the devastating announcement by potentially creating approximately 200 jobs.



It has also promised a further jobs boost in the health insurance business, but has not clarified when this may happen.



Most of the proposed job losses are expected to go in the life and pensions and general insurance business, which have suffered drastic losses of over 25pc. However, the health insurance division is growing.



Most of the life and pensions business is based in Dublin, while 230 staff at the Galway call centre sell general insurance. The more buoyant health division is in Dublin and Cork.



"If the 950 job-loss figure proves to be accurate, I can't see the insurance industry soaking them up," said chief union negotiator Brian Gallagher.



He added: "The axe has fallen harder and sharper than the worst fears of staff. They are stunned and scared."



Aviva claimed that it would seek as many job cuts as possible on a voluntary basis but staff fear large-scale compulsory redundancies.



Professionals



Of the 950 jobs to go over two years from March next year:



- All 180 jobs will be lost at the Aviva Europe operation, which is transferring to the UK, although its staff are the most likely to pick up other work in the insurance sector.



Recruitment to the operation is seen as a promotion and tends to attract the most highly skilled workers, many with third-level qualifications.



- 770 jobs to go at Aviva Ireland, which employs 1,770 staff. This includes 150 in the branch network; 180 staff in Cork who process claims; 230 in a Galway call centre selling general insurance; and the remainder in the Dublin headquarters.



- In addition to the 950 job losses, another 300 jobs may be outsourced.



Insiders said this is most likely to affect the life-assurance business, although the insurer has promised that outsourcing will not happen outside the Republic.



Aviva claimed yesterday that pay costs here were at least 20pc higher than in the UK, while overall costs were up to 50pc higher. It is understood that average pay at the Aviva Ireland operation is around €35,000 a year.



UNITE maintained that bad management rather than wage levels were to blame for the massive jobs cull.



Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the job losses were a "painful legacy" of the domestic economy after the property crash, but he acknowledged that this was cold comfort to staff.



"My determination is to do everything -- and that is what we have been doing -- we can to mitigate the impact," he said.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Also in Business