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Hibernian staff vote to ballot for strike (The Irish Times)

04 November 2011

Staff at insurance group Hibernian have voted to ballot for industrial action to oppose the com-pany’s plans to cut 580 jobs over three years and transfer them to Bangalore in India.

Workers passed a motion of no confidence in management at a meeting of trade union, Unite, which represents Hibernian staff, at the company’s head office in Dublin yesterday. The union said the ballot would “now get under way with immediate effect”.

Hibernian plans to transfer the first 80 jobs from its offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway in the first three months of next year and the additional 500 jobs over three years.

Most of the jobs will be transferred from the insurer’s head office in Dublin and will be back office and support service positions. The company is cutting its 2,200-strong workforce by more than a quarter.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Unite national officer Jerry Shanahan cited recent comments made by Prof Phil Taylor from the University of Strathclyde that wage inflation in India had already reduced the salary saving to 25 per cent.

Mr Shanahan said that “even this is countered by the quality of service deficit arising out of staff turnover of as much as 50 per cent”.

He said that Hibernian’s parent company, UK insurance group Aviva, which already has operations in Bangalore, had started to repatriate jobs from abroad “because of these very issues”.

Mr Shanahan disputed the company’s suggestion that the relocation of the jobs out of Ireland was inevitable.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the union’s statement.