Fears grow that 500 to lose jobs at Aviva
FEARS were mounting today for more than 500 jobs at insurance giant Aviva.
Employees are facing an uncertain future after it was revealed that business in Ireland is struggling and restructuring plans are imminent.
The 2,000 Irish workers at the company have been warned to expect an announcement as early as next month.
It is believed that Aviva is planning on moving its general insurance business to the UK.
The majority of employees at The Aviva Group in Ireland work from the company's headquarters in Hatch Street, Dublin. There are also smaller offices in Cork and Dublin
Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton confirmed that he had "heard rumours" about the potential loss in a TV interview last night.
Aviva said in a statement that the difficult economic circumstances in Ireland have forced it to consider various options in a bid to remain competitive.
But the company said it was too early to speculate.
"Our review is still underway, so it's too early to speculate on the final outcome," it said.
According to RTE's Primetime last night, the company's UK headquarters are said to have been playing an increasing role in the Irish division.
The Unite trade union, which represents around 1,300 of the 2,000 staff employed by Aviva, are having an urgent meeting with management at the insurer this morning.
Colm Quinlan, regional officer with Unite, said that nothing specific has been put on the table in terms of job cuts.
"Life in Aviva has been a bit of a rollercoaster recently," he said today.
"There was a media announcement that a lot of jobs were going to India.
"In 2009 the European HQ moved into Dublin. In the middle of this year we were advised that it was being taken out of Dublin and back to UK.
"We have been waiting since June to see what the impact would be," he added.
Unite representatives are due to meet management this morning and Mr Quinlan said that they would ensure that they "deliver a robust response."
"Nothing is ruled out and nothing is ruled in," he said.
"We will seek whatever assurances we can receive from the employer to minimise the impact."
It is understood that income in the sales and pensions divisions at Aviva fell by 17pc last year.
Director of the Centre for Insurance Studies, Prof Ray Kinsella said that there are several reasons the insurance sector is suffering a fall back.
"You are finding a reduction in premium income right across the board," he said.
"With car insurance in particular, there has been an increased frequency of claims.
"There is very little prospect of the domestic environment improving over the next couple of years."
But he said that Aviva, which employs about 54,000 around the world, was a company that was in the business "for the long haul."
"I would be concerned if a company of this size is undergoing a restructuring," he said.
"If the economy is in a bad place -- if there is very little prospects of immediate improvement, companies do have to make hard decisions."
An Aviva spokeswoman said that it was "too early" to speculate about the outcome of the review because it was ongoing.