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Aviva workers vote in favour of industrial action

It follows the recent announcement that 950 jobs are to be cut at the insurance company.

Image: Stephen Kilkenny

Updated 1pm

UNITE HAS SAID that its members who work at the insurance company Aviva have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action following a recent announcement that 950 jobs in Ireland are to be cut.

The trade union, which represents around three-quarters of Aviva’s workforce in Ireland, said that a more than 90 per cent majority voted in favour of industrial action if jobs are threatened or relocation measures are undertaken without the agreement of staff.

Two weeks ago, Aviva announced it was to cut 950 jobs in Ireland, effectively halving its workforce in the country.

One-hundred-and-eighty jobs will go from Aviva Europe which is based in Ireland with 770 redundancies from Aviva Ireland which has offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

The company also announced it plans to combine its Irish operation with its one in the UK to form a new “UK and Ireland Region” and said it would look to achieve as many redundancies as possible through voluntary means.

The job losses will not come into effect until 2012 but anger among staff led to a ballot on industrial action which was passed.

UNITE argues that workers were not properly consulted on the measures and says that the insurance giant must now be “open and honest about what changes will be made, and row back on the numbers of jobs at risk where a case exists for positions being retained in Ireland.”

UNITE regional officer Brian Gallagher added:

We will now begin a full review of the job cuts. We will insist that those which are to be lost be so on a voluntary redundancy basis, and where no genuine case is made for taking jobs out of Ireland, we will fight to make sure that changes to the plan are made.

Responding to the developments, Aviva Ireland CEO Dermot Browne said in a statement that the company fully acknowledged the concerns of employees:

Our plans are in the proposal stage, they are subject to Irish and UK board approval and consultation with all our employees and their representatives.  Aviva remains committed to engagement and discussions with our people.

Changes of this nature take time and we fully understand that this is a worrying time for our people. We will also ensure that our high standards of customer service are maintained at all times.

Aviva is to meet with UNITE later today, the statement added.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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