The Swiss insurance and banking concern, Zurich Financial Services Group, is to shed 230 jobs at its Zurich headquarters over the next two years and reduce the number of full-time positions from 1,110 to 500.
In a statement, the company said it hoped that natural wastage would account for a large number of the job losses. It said it also planned to re-deploy more than 80 employees whose posts are being axed.
The job cuts are envisaged as part of a new organisational structure, which was first announced last November and is expected to be completed by March 2003. Under the plan the slimmed-down headquarters will focus on governance and strategic leadership.
The change in orientation at headquarters will also entail around 280 posts being relocated from Zurich to other centres.
Despite assurances from the Zurich Group, employers' organisations have reacted with anger to the news. Peter Vonlanthen, the head of the Zurich business association, said employees were having to pay for management's mistakes.
"At the same time as bonuses are being paid, 230 workers are being squeezed out," Vonlanthen said. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the social plan presented by the company for compensating employees facing redundancy.
Zurich Financial Services expects the restructuring to result in savings of SFr200 million ($120 million) a year and improve overall efficiency.
In early February the group surprised the markets by issuing a warning of expected reduced profits.
swissinfo with agencies