A crunch meeting between trade union officials and Aviva management held yesterday morning did little to allay fears for jobs throughout the insurance company’s Irish operations, with some jobs in Galway also thought to be at risk.
Speculation was mounting this week that restructuring plans could result in the loss of some 500 jobs throughout the Aviva Group in Ireland which comprises Aviva Insurance Europe SE, Aviva Life and Pensions Ireland Limited, Aviva Health Insurance Ireland Limited, and Aviva Investors Ireland Limited. Aviva employs around 2,000 people in Ireland with some 210 employed in its Galway operations - a call centre in Knocknacarra and a retail branch in Eyre Square.
According to reports the company is said to be considering relocating part of its general insurance business to the UK where its European headquarters is based, but Aviva management has been reluctant to confirm if there is any truth in the speculation regarding potential job losses.
Trade union UNITE which represents 1,300 of the 2,000 employees employed at Aviva branches in Dublin, Galway, Cork, and around the country have warned that morale is extremely low at present as staff have been left in the dark about the future security of their jobs.
Unite press officer Rob Hartnett said: “We have asked for Aviva to deny the rumours of job losses, but they have been unable to do that. They have said that no decision has yet been made on restructuring proposals and that they will communicate with staff when they can. There is no indication as of yet whether any jobs are at risk, either regionally or at the headquarters in Dublin. There is neither good nor bad news and no indication whether jobs in Knocknacarra or at the retail branch in Eyre Square will be affected.
“It is hoped there is no truth to the rumours, but if that was the case they would have said that today [Wednesday]. They were not in a position to do that. Morale is pretty low, this is the latest in a line of incidents where there has been a severe lack of communication. We have asked that high priority be placed on informing staff of their decision.”
Echoing this concern for Aviva employees, UNITE regional officer Brian Gallagher said: “Our 1,300 members are angry that this story has broken in the media before any agreement with staff was undertaken. Morale is on the floor. Our members are trying their best to lift the business in difficult circumstances and this lack of communication from management is very poor. It is unfair to expect staff to operate in a vacuum when they do not know if they will have a job in a few months’ time.”
Aviva management remain tight-lipped regarding the situation claiming that a review is currently in progress. A statement read: “Aviva is committed to Ireland, where we have had a business for over 100 years. Given the difficult economic environment in which we are all operating in Ireland, we are considering various options to ensure we have a sustainable and competitive business, providing excellent service and value for our Irish customers. Our review is still under way, so it’s too early to speculate on the final outcome.”