Insurance giant to export more jobs

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The insurance giant Norwich Union is to move hundreds more jobs abroad in a move which will lead to compulsory redundancies in this country, it was announced today.

The insurance giant Norwich Union is to move hundreds more jobs abroad in a move which will lead to compulsory redundancies in this country, it was announced today.

Around 950 jobs will be created in India and Sri Lanka next year, leading to the loss of jobs in offices including Norwich and York.

Aviva, which owns Norwich Union, said that by the end of 2007 it will have "offshored" 7,000 jobs servicing its UK businesses.

Amicus attacked the announcement, which it warned underlined the threat to the future of the UK financial services industry.

Aviva said it expected no more than 150 compulsory redundancies next year as a result of today's move.

"Offshoring is a well-established strategy for Aviva which provides flexibility and efficiency and enables the company to maintain the quality of service which customers demand," the company said in a statement.

Around 760 of the new jobs will be based in India servicing the life and pensions and general insurance businesses in mainly back office administrative roles.

A further 190 finance support jobs will be created in Sri Lanka.

The company said it would do all it could to minimise compulsory redundancies by redeploying staff to alternative jobs.

Gary Withers, Norwich Union Life's chief executive, said: "We operate in very competitive markets where customers continually seek better value for money and quality of service.

"The experience of our existing offshore operations shows that the service levels in India continue to match those that we achieve in our UK operations.

"Expanding our offshore operations will give us the increased capacity we need.

"We expect to conclude our offshoring plans by the end of 2007, by which time we anticipate that we will have up to 7,000 roles offshore servicing our existing UK businesses.

"We recognise that this is a period of great uncertainty and will do everything we can to support staff during this time and ensure that they are kept fully informed throughout the process.

"We have a successful track record of redeployment with offshoring, and as a result we will minimise the impact of redundancies."

Norwich Union has already "offshored" 3,700 jobs to India since last year.

David Fleming, national officer at Amicus, said: "Norwich Union have at last revealed their true intentions, which is to reduce the total UK workforce by 25% by 2007.

"This points to a bleak future for the UK financial services industry as a whole.

"We will not accept compulsory redundancies as a consequence of offshoring in any company and that will be fundamental to our negotiations with Norwich Union.

"We expect the company to ensure there is maximum opportunity for retraining, job mobility and skills development for all staff affected.

"The financial services employees across the UK will be bracing themselves as Amicus expects thousands more redundancies as companies are forced to show their offshoring hand."

Tens of thousands of jobs have been moved to India in the past three years by scores of UK firms, including banks, airlines, telecommunications firms and even the national rail enquiries service.

Workers in India earn considerably less than their UK counterparts, giving labour savings of 40%.