Uncertainty over jobs at Churchill

IPSWICH: Staff across the insurance businesses of Royal Bank of Scotland face continued uncertainty today following confirmation that 14 offices across the UK, including one in Ipswich, are to close.

The part-nationalised banking group, whose insurance operations include the Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege brands, warned in May that around 2,000 jobs out of a total workforce of about 16,000 in the insurance business were likely to be axed under rationalisation plans.

RBS is seeking to improve efficiency within the insurance business ahead of its planned sale, in compliance with a European Commission competition ruling following the bank’s multi-billion bail-out by the Government at the height of the financial crisis.

The Churchill Insurance office in Crown Street, Ipswich, where 194 people are currently employed, is among those identified for closure by the end of June next year.

However, Ipswich will become a core centre for the RBS business with the Churchill office in Princes Street, which has a workforce of 356, among those being retained.

Ipswich is a major centre for the insurance industry, with other players such as AXA also represented in the town as well as global broker Willis.

There was no confirmation yesterday of how workers in Ipswich will be affected by the Churchill office changes, in terms of redundancy or redeployment.

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One worker, speaking outside the office, said: “It’s the uncertainty that I don’t like. I don’t know what I would do if I lost my job.”

An RBS spokesman said the announcement purely related to the properties involved and that the process of identifying jobs at risk of redundancy would now follow.

However, Rob MacGregor, national officer at trade union Unite, said: “Unite is calling on RBS to come clean with staff and clarify the impact of the restructuring and end the uncertainty. Unite will hold RBS to account over any compulsory job losses that result.”

n Are you concerned about your job at Churchill? Call The Evening Star on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk