Unite has labelled Aviva’s planned 800 job cuts “appalling”, but the union could stir up more trouble than a scathing press release

The trade union Unite fired a broadside against Aviva after the announcement that the company could make up to 800 staff redundant as part of its restructure.

At first, the insurer was coy about the total number of possible job cuts, but then revealed a figure after Unite demanded that Aviva come clean.

Unite’s national officer David Fleming dubbed any planned staff cull “appalling”, and added:

“Our members face being asked to pay the price of boardroom failure, and Unite is dismayed that what started out as a shareholders’ revolt on executive pay will result in a jobs cull.”

The 800 figure seems high, but it is about 4.3% of Aviva’s total UK workforce of 18,500, split across life and general insurance. Aviva has also said that the total redundancies would be fewer than 800 owing to factors including natural staff turnover and employees finding jobs elsewhere in the company.

So now that the numbers are out in the open, what will Unite do next? Many Aviva employees are Unite members, and industrial action is therefore not out of the question.

Unite has not played its next hand yet, but no doubt the Aviva top brass are hoping that the union will confine its protest to strongly worded press releases rather than placards and pickets outside Aviva offices.