Blow to workers as 240 jobs lost

INSURANCE workers in Ipswich were today "gobsmacked" by news their office will close by the end of next year with the loss of up to 240 jobs.The news that Rawlinson Alliance, the group which owns Royal Sun Alliance and the More Th>n call centres – of which the Ipswich office is a part, has left staff reeling.

INSURANCE workers in Ipswich were today "gobsmacked" by news their office will close by the end of next year with the loss of up to 240 jobs.

The news that Rawlinson Alliance, the group which owns Royal Sun Alliance and the More Th>n call centres – of which the Ipswich office is a part, has left staff reeling.

Despite being told by company chiefs that they would be given support to either find new jobs locally, be encouraged to seek relocation to other branches and be sure of keeping in work for at least the next few months, it is a cold comfort Christmas present.

One distressed employee of the Museum Street office in Ipswich said he was 'gutted'.


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The worker, who asked not to be named, said: "It is bad enough for me and I am the only member of my family working here and facing an uncertain future.

"We have at least one whole family works in this office and several couples working here together. What future for them?"

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Another employee, who also did not want to be identified, said: "I am gobsmacked. It is devastating for a lot of people especially at this time of the year to know your job is going to go."

The Rawlinson Alliance group is also closing its customer service centre at Hinckley in Leicestershire but retaining its call centres in Sunderland, Liverpool, Peterborough and Bristol plus its specialist pet insurance section in Henley on Thames.

A spokesman for the company, said: "The decision to close the Ipswich and Hinckley offices was purely down to them being the smaller operations.

"The reason for making job cuts and closing centres is purely down to the need to remain competitive in an extremely competitive area. Despite the cuts, however, we are continuing to grow the More Th>n and Royal Sun Alliance sections but growing the business at the larger centres," he said.

The Hinckley centre employs 108 people and is due to close on April 4, 2004 while the Ipswich office closure is scheduled for the end of next year.

The spokesman added: "Individual customers will not be adversely affected by the closures as we already operate our centres on a 'virtual' basis with each caller answered by the next available staff member at any of our centres across the country."

A support programme begins tomorrow at both axed centres where redeployment opportunities will be offered wherever possible and a career training programme including interview preparation and CV writing.

"We have made the announcement at this early stage to maximise opportunities for staff to find alternative employment either within the company or outside. Our staff have excellent customer service training and we shall be providing all the support we can to help them find new jobs," the spokesman added.

N The 1,000 job cuts announced at Royal Sun Alliance in September were a separate issue to the losses announced today and the spokesman said the earlier losses were mainly technology linked.

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