Insurance industry jobs blow

THERE were fears of job losses in Ipswich's insurance sector today after Norwich Union owner Aviva announced it plans to cut 4,000 jobs in the UK by 2008.

THERE were fears of job losses in Ipswich's insurance sector today after Norwich Union owner Aviva announced it plans to cut 4,000 jobs in the UK by 2008.

The company said 1,000 jobs would move to India while a further 500 roles in IT would be contracted out.

Aviva said the job cuts would reduce duplication in marketing, human resources, finance and IT.

In a statement to the stock market, Aviva said: “The company will seek to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies through natural staff turnover and voluntary measures.”

Patrick Snowball, Norwich Union's chief executive, said: “We have to ensure that Norwich Union remains a highly efficient and effective company in what is an increasingly competitive and dynamic environment.

“Customers' buying habits are changing rapidly as technology becomes more accessible. Already half our new direct motor insurance policies are purchased over the internet.”

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In 2003 Norwich Union cut 50 jobs from its Crown Street offices in Ipswich, a year before it announced 700 jobs were to go from its Life sector of the company in other locations.

In 2004 Amicus warned the company's decision to send jobs offshore could lead to the eventual closure of its Ipswich operations because it is one of the company's smaller centres but at the time Norwich Union stressed the Ipswich offices were a key intermediary regional centre for East Anglia.

Aviva said the latest job cuts in general insurance and life insurance would reduce its UK workforce from 36,000 to 32,000 and save the company £250 million a year from 2008.

The 1,000 jobs to be moved to India are part of a previously-announced plan to send 7,800 jobs offshore. The insurer already has 5,250 workers in India and a further 250 in Sri Lanka.

The blow to the workforce came just a month after Aviva posted a 27per cent rise in half-year profits to £1.7 billion.

Dave Fleming, national officer of union Amicus, said: “This is absolutely brutal. Compulsory job cuts and offshoring on this scale will not be accepted by us or our members.

“This is a betrayal of their long-serving workforce who have woken up to the news on the media this morning that their jobs are going rather than hearing it from their employer.”

Weblinks: www.norwichunion.com; www.amicustheunion.org

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