Shocked Aviva staff face long wait over Norwich job cuts
PUBLISHED: 15:46 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:46 06 June 2019
Staff at Aviva in Norwich face an uncertain few months waiting to hear whether their jobs could be axed.
The shock announcement was met with concern around the county as to how the insurance giant - with its origins in Norwich going back more than 100 years - could be faced with having to slash staff numbers.
Staff arriving at work said they had "no idea" about the cuts but were later briefed by managers. Many told this newspaper they were in a state of shock.
The job cuts form part of Aviva's new CEO Maurice Tulloch's bid to make the company more efficient, slicing off £300m to reduce its expenses from £4bn to £3.7bn.
In response, local MPs Norwich South's Clive Lewis and Broadland's Keith Simpson both expressed big concerns, particularly in the wake of other job losses in the city at firms including Heatrae Sadia, Britvic and Unilever.
Meanwhile, Aviva, with its Norwich headquarters on Surrey Street - where it has been for more than a century - said it hoped to lose some employees through natural wastage.
"We cannot rule out that there will be redundancies in Norwich, however," a spokeswoman said. "We will always look at reducing roles through natural turnover, we have a 10% turnover so we won't be filling those vacancies."
The spokeswoman confirmed arms of the business such as pensions, savings, life insurance and commercial insurance, would be divided up in a new restructuring.
When asked by this newspaper for an interview with senior managers, Aviva declined.
Labour MP Mr Lewis said: "My thoughts are with those employees who now have this sword of Damocles over them."
Mr Simpson, Conservative, added: "Are they eventually going to be closing down their office in Norwich? I think the big question now is getting promises from Aviva that they will keep people fully informed."
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Union representative Andy Case, Unite's Aviva officer said: "The scale of this role reduction will be met with disbelief across the company. Unite have arranged urgent discussions with Aviva management in order to ascertain the rationale for cutting an already extremely stretched workforce. "Unite has made it clear to management that the union will strongly challenge any attempt to make compulsory redundancies."