Senior union figures have said the announcement of 950 job cuts at Aviva is "worse than anybody anticipated".
Aviva said the job losses were agreed in a proposal to merge the Aviva Ireland division with Aviva UK to form a new UK and Ireland region and become the most competitive insurance provider in Ireland.
The Unite union, who have battled with management at Aviva for months to get clear information on company plans, said: “It’s as bad as it could have been - perhaps even worse than anybody anticipated.”
The redundancies are expected to involve 770 from Aviva Ireland and 180 roles from Aviva Europe based in Ireland.
Aviva Ireland employs 1,770 people in Dublin, Cork and Galway and has built up a customer base of 1.3 million people.
Redundancies are expected to be enforced in the next six months.
Unite regional officer Brian Gallagher summed up the mood among shocked staff: “The axe has fallen harder and sharper than the worst fears of staff.
“They are stunned and scared by what they have been told.”
Trade union leaders were briefed on the plan by management yesterday evening. They said they have been given a commitment that consultations over redundancies and job transfers can be held for as long as is necessary.
Mr Gallagher said Unite will scrutinise the plan and fight to keep high-level positions in Ireland.
“The company remains immensely profitable on both a local and a global scale. The workers that have made it so cannot be treated with disdain,” he said.
“The idea that Ireland is to be subsumed as part of the UK operation is something which we will fight against as this has serious implications for the most skilled positions and expertise within the Irish employee base.”
He added: “Jobs will be lost but we will seek that as many as possible of these should be on fair voluntary redundancy terms, and that the overall number lost should be as few as possible.
“The process of this review has been unnecessarily hard on staff. Communication was poor and the key decisions were clearly taken on a multinational basis from London, without due consideration of the impact the uncertainty has had on the workforce and on the reputation of the business in Ireland.”
Unite will hold talks with staff in Dublin today, Galway tomorrow, Cork on Friday and representatives of the 26 Aviva branches next Monday in Portlaoise.