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Aviva to close all 26 Irish branches by June next year - report

Earlier today the company announced its CEO in Ireland is to step down at the end of the year amid widespread restructuring of its Irish operations.

Image: Stephen Kilkenny

AVIVA WILL CLOSE all 26 of its branches around the country by June of next year according to a leaked document which has emerged.

RTÉ News’ Ingrid Miley is reporting that the insurance company, which recently announced 950 job cuts next year, will close its 26 branch network in Ireland resulting in the direct loss of 120 jobs as part of cost-cutting measures.

The company said in a statement tonight that “no decisions have been made” in relation to the reports of branch closures but it has already announced that its Irish operation would be merged into its UK one as part of restructuring plans.

The UNITE trade union said it would seek urgent talks with management at the company as a result of the latest developments.

RTÉ reports that between 950 and 1250 jobs will be lost as part of the various measures that will be undertaken which will see UK insurance products adapted for sale in the Irish market and all administrative functions moved to the UK.

A call centre will be set up in Galway to deal with claims, direct sales and support and the company maintains that by June 2013, it will continue to employ over 1000 people in Ireland.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie this evening the company said:

Aviva announced proposals on 19 October 2011 to combine Aviva Ireland with Aviva UK to form a new UK and Ireland Region with the ambition to become the most competitive insurance provider in Ireland.

Work continues on the feasibility of our options and no decisions have been made. We are committed to a consultation process and sharing the outcome of our discussions with our employees first.

Earlier it was announced that Aviva Ireland’s current CEO Dermot Browne was to step down at the end of the year as part of the restructuring plans.

His role will be filled by Seán Egan whose arrival has been met with a cool reception by one trade union.

UNITE, which represents 75 per cent of the 1,770 Aviva workers in Ireland, said in a statement:

Seán Egan has been parachuted in to force through a merger of the Irish business into that of the UK. He has been central to the decision to tear apart the Irish operation of Aviva.

He has been at the heart of the disastrously mishandled communication of the plan to staff, some 2,000 of whom are still none the wiser as to their futures.

The union called for more information on the restructuring plans and job losses ahead. Members have also voted in favour of industrial action over the lack of information regarding the redundancies.

Responding to the leaked document reported this evening, the union said it would seek a meeting with the new chief executive tomorrow:

“Management previously said it would be January before details were finalised but this suggests otherwise,” UNITE regional officer Brian Gallagher said

The company appointed a new boss for Ireland today.  He is a man who has been central to the restructuring.  We need to hear directly from him whether this document is to be the basis for our negotiation.

“We need to reach an agreement for those staff forced to leave, security for those remaining and a fair balance between the two.”

Earlier: Aviva Ireland CEO Dermot Browne to resign >

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Hugh O'Connell

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