Sunday 25 February 2018

'We are feeling totally let down by the company'

Anne-Marie Walsh, Ralph Riegel and Brian McDonald

AT FIRST there were tears. But they were quickly replaced by anger. Real anger.

And there were endless reminders at Aviva yesterday of just how badly it has gone wrong since the Celtic Tiger years.

Hundreds of staff sat in flashy designer surroundings at the insurance giant's nerve centre in one of the most upmarket addresses in Dublin to be told they will soon have little or no income.

No expense had been spared on the plush ground-floor concourse of the Hatch Street office, which looks more like a five-star hotel.

It is still forking out €4m a year to have its name attached to a state-of-the-art stadium up the road.

But yesterday morning, the insurance giant's lobby was cordoned off with a plain white curtain as executives finally told workers the ugly truth.

There has been speculation for months on the large scale of the job losses but there were still tears in the eyes of the men and women afterwards.

One man's hands shook as he lit a cigarette.

He said he did not want his name to appear in the newspaper because he feared he would be sacked, but said he might have no money coming in soon as his partner also worked there.

Ed Thompson spoke of ''a feeling of being totally let down by the company. We have no idea how many jobs will be voluntary."

The icy wind that whistled over Aviva's Cork Airport Business Park offices mirrored the mood of workers.

A meeting about its plans to axe 950 jobs left the 200-strong Cork staff with more questions than answers.

Workers were reluctant to talk to the media after security moved them away from the main entrance.

Claire Clancy said staff were very upset at the possibility of losing their jobs with Christmas only weeks away.

Aviva's vow to retain a presence in Cork was cold comfort.

After a senior executive who travelled from Dublin HQ addressed the 220 call-centre staff in Knocknacarra in Galway, Denise Cooke got stuck into him.

"He told us nothing we didn't know. When he finished, I was the first to tell him that. It was a pure waste of the man's time, coming from Dublin,'' she said

"We're now expected to go back to our desks, put on a smile and keep going as if nothing has happened -- looks like they're just keeping us sweet until March 2012."

Irish Independent

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