EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Zurich Financial Services

Company/Organisation:
Zurich Financial Services

Geographic Location

Country: United Kingdom
Region: Tyneside; Northumberland and Tyne and Wear; North East
Location of affected unit(s): Newcastle

Company

Sector: Financial services
Financial and insurance activities
65 - Insurance, reinsurance and pension funding, except compulsory social security
Number Employed: 500

Employment Effects

Announcement Date: 08-08-2006
Planned Job Reductions min: 500
Planned Job Reductions max: 500
Type of Restructuring: Bankruptcy/Closure

Additional Information

500 insurance workers' jobs are at risk after insurance firm Zurich Financial Services announced proposals to close its office in Fenkle Street, Newcastle, which employs about 500 people. The firm said the decision followed a review of its structure, which concluded it could improve efficiency and effectiveness with a smaller number of locations. The Union of Finance Staff said workers were upset and did not know why such a high-performing branch was being hit. Staff at the Newcastle office, which opened in 1982, work on insurance sales, administration and claims processing. A Zurich spokeswoman said the review had been prompted by the competitive insurance market place. She said: 'These are proposals, however I think it's realistic to say that there are 500 people at risk of redundancy.' 'These decisions are always very difficult to reach. It is no reflection on the fantastic work our people do there.' A 90-day consultation about the proposal has now started with unions who represent the staff. Deputy general secretary of the Union of Finance Staff, Marc Latham, was in Newcastle on Tuesday and said staff were upset and some angry about the announcement. He said: 'This has come as a complete shock. Because of their high performance, it would suggest that this is a branch that should stay open.' 'One of the things we need to do is check the rationale behind this and start to put forward our own proposals.' 'What we don't want is for the company to throw away a dedicated set of staff, with many years of training. High performance is not being rewarded with security.'