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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Workers treated shabbily - union
Norwich Union office
Aviva, owner of Norwich Union, has long-term off-shoring plans
A major restructuring by the owner of insurance company Norwich Union will see 100 jobs going in Belfast.

The UK's biggest insurer, Aviva, said it would cut 4,000 Norwich Union jobs by 2008 as it seeks to trim costs and streamline its operations.

Kevin McAdam from the Amicus trade union said workers felt they had "been treated shabbily".

Aviva said that about 50% of the cuts would come through compulsory redundancies.

It added that up to 1,000 jobs would be shifted to India, and another 500 IT posts would be outsourced.

John Ainley, group HR director for Norwich Union, said the staff in Belfast were excellent, but that customer buying patterns were changing.

"We now sell 50% of our motor policies online, over the internet, obviously as a result of that we need less people to take calls," he said.

He said that there were 236 people employed by the company in Belfast and that the 100 jobs affected were in customer service areas.

He said that a number of employees may have heard that the company was shedding jobs through the media after some information "got out" on Wednesday evening, earlier than the company planned.

'Concerned'

Kevin McAdam said:"The staff are extremely angry about and their apology just demonstrates that they did it wrong.

"Not only did it wrong, they are more concerned about their share-holders than they are (about) their UK employees."

Aviva said the offshoring was part of earlier-announced plans to move 7,800 jobs overseas by the end of next year.

The company said it would look to "minimise the number of compulsory redundancies", but added that it needed to make difficult decisions if it wanted to safeguard future profitability and its industry position.

Aviva said that while it would be shutting some offices in cities such as Belfast, Glasgow, Stevenage, Norwich and Cambridge, it would not completely shut down operations in those locations.

Staff affected by the latest job cuts would be offered retraining and the chance to move within the company, a spokeswoman explained.

Patrick Snowball, the executive chairman of Norwich Union, said that changes in consumer habits meant that the company was operating in an "increasingly competitive and dynamic environment".

"Consumers, independent financial advisers and brokers are increasingly operating in a self-service world," he said.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Group HR director John Ainley apologises to staff



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