Sunday 19 November 2017

Aviva: 950 jobs to go but nobody knows which ones as staff are left in limbo

Gilmore brands treatment of workers disgraceful as axe hangs over all

Colm Kelpie and Mark Hilliard

WORKERS at insurance giant Aviva will have to wait "a considerable period of time" before they find out which sections of the company will be hit by the devastating job losses.

While about half of the company's 1,770 Irish workforce face redundancy, trade union Unite said all staff members were frightened because bosses has still not pinpointed where the axe will fall.

As Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore branded the treatment of workers disgraceful, a spokesman for the company said it had to consult with union chiefs before revealing which sections of the insurer would be hit.

Aviva operates various insurance divisions in Ireland, including life and pensions, health insurance and general insurance.

Unite regional officer Brian Gallagher said he had never seen a company operate in this way. "I would have expected that they would have been able to at least indicate the areas which were under threat," Mr Gallagher said.

"At the minute, they're saying that half the jobs are going, but they're not telling them which half -- which means everybody feels their jobs are under threat. I've never seen it done like this before."

Aviva announced on Wednesday that 950 jobs would go over two years, from March. A further 300 may be outsourced.

The redundancies are expected to involve 770 from Aviva Ireland and 180 positions from Aviva Europe, which is also based in Ireland.

Mr Gallagher said management at the company told him that it could take several weeks to decide which areas would be affected by the 770 lay-offs.

But a company spokesman told the Irish Independent that it could take "a considerable period of time" -- but could not say how long that would be.

Unite officials yesterday began a series of meetings across the country to set out its plan and to drum up support to begin a ballot for industrial action.

They met about 220 workers in Galway, and will meet another 370 in Cork today and 150 in Portlaoise on Monday.

A ballot is expected to take place next week.

In the Dail, Mr Gilmore hit out at the way in which management had handled the lay-offs.

"I think the way in which Aviva treated their employees was disgraceful," he said.

"Calling them in, in the manner in which they were called in, requiring them not to talk to the press and then letting them back out again, as wise as when they went in, is simply not acceptable."

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said the Government should have intervened. "Staff are still in the dark as to whether their jobs are under threat and if redundancies will be voluntary or compulsory," she said.

Meanwhile, at the launch of Bus Eireann Women's National League at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin yesterday, Minister of State Michael Ring said he was very sad to see people losing their jobs, but would not be drawn on whether the FAI and RFU should end their relationship with the insurance giant.

He said: "950 jobs is a massive amount of jobs. What can I say? The contractual arrangements were in place and I hope that they stay in place because I am sure that it would pose a problem for the organisations that are involved, the FAI and the rugby."

Irish Independent

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