Aviva to cut jobs across Europe - including Norwich

Insurance giant Aviva is to cut 950 jobs as part of a major restructure of its European operations, it announced today.

Insurance giant Aviva is to cut 950 jobs as part of a major restructure of its European operations, it announced today.

The company, which in August unveiled half-year profits of �1.3bn, is looking at combining its Aviva Ireland and Aviva UK operations to form a new UK and Ireland region.

The moves will see 950 job losses over the next two years - comprised of 180 roles from Aviva Europe and 770 from Aviva Ireland.

Meanwhile in a separate move, the company is also looking at 116 job losses within its UK life and pensions teams, including 11 staff in the Norwich-based distribution teams who work with independent financial advisors.

Union leaders said the figures meant the total job losses across the company would be closer to 1,200 because the plans would also mean the closure of Aviva's Life Sales departments based in, Norwich, Leicester, Manchester, and Southampton, and 220 out of 400 staff would be affected.

But the company said the UK changes affected 116 staff, while the rest were being subject to a change in reporting lines.

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Igal Mayer, chief executive of Aviva Europe said the company would endeavour to achieve as many of the potential redundancies as possible through voluntary means.

'The proposed changes to our regional operations will deliver a stronger, leaner business, at the heart of which is a firm focus on meeting our customers' needs,' he said. 'In Ireland, we must improve our competitiveness to ensure we continue to provide customers with attractive products, good value and excellent service. We're fully committed to keeping customer-facing roles in Ireland and to minimising the impact on our employees. We appreciate that there will be a period of uncertainty for our people over the next few months as the proposals are explored further, and we'll make every effort to support them during the consultation period and beyond.'

He said Aviva would also investigate the feasibility of establishing additional centres of excellence in Ireland to serve customers in the UK, as the business grows which could potentially mitigate the reduction in roles in Ireland by approximately 200.

Any proposed structural changes in the Irish business are not expected to begin to take effect before March 2012 and the company anticipates that it could take up to two years for a new structure to come into full effect.

Unite regional officer, Daryl Williams, said the move would halve the numbers in the Life Sales teams across the UK.

'This is a grim day for jobs across Aviva,' Mr Williams said. 'News that Aviva is planning to shed over 1,200 jobs is devastating news for our members and the Aviva workforce, who are continuing to live under constant uncertainty about their future.

'While the company is continuing to deliver positive results, it is unacceptable that the very workers delivering these results are being axed.

'Over the coming days and weeks, Unite will be holding meetings with management to discuss the impact of these proposals,' he added. 'The union will oppose any compulsory redundancies and will press the company to offer redeployment and re-training opportunities to staff in order to minimise the impact of this announcement.'