Union concerned by QBE job cut reports

The union representing QBE Insurance workers is concerned by reports the company may seek to shed up to 700 staff in Australia.

The Australian Financial Review cited unnamed industry insiders and analysts who estimate up to 700 jobs could go as part of a cost cutting program.

However, QBE has refused to confirm the figures, saying the company is committed to extensive cost cutting, but has not revealed which areas will be affected.

"John Neal has previously advised the market that QBE is looking to reduce annual operating costs by more than $200 million in coming years," a spokesman for the insurer said.

"This will be achieved through a wide range of initiatives as we work more closely across the 52 countries in which QBE employees are based.

Our twin objectives are to further improve our business practices and to position the organisation for future profitable growth." The company's chief executive John Neal said at the half-year results in August that it would provide more detail about the cost cutting at its full-year results briefing in late February.

However, the union says the reports of potential job losses are still concerning for the more than 4,300 people QBE employs in Australia.

"It's grossly unfair that large scale job cutting is on the agenda while we are still in the midst of a devastating fire season," said the Finance Sector Union's national assistant secretary Geoff Derrick.

"It's even more unfair to read about it in this morning's newspaper, rather than hear this news direct from the employer." The FSU is calling on QBE to engage in consultation with staff and the union ahead of any job cut announcements.

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