Wales Escapes 'Brutal' Aviva Response to Online Trends

Article excerpt

Wales appears to have emerged unscathed from the round of 4,000 redundancies announced yesterday by Britain's biggest insurer. Norwich Union's owner Aviva said it will slash its UK workforce by 11%. It will transfer 1,000 of the jobs to India as part of previously announced plans to have up to 7,800 roles primarily based in the country by the end of 2007.

The cuts come just a month after Aviva posted a 27% increase in half-year profits of pounds 1.7bn.

Aviva said the move followed a review of the Norwich Union life insurance and general insurance businesses in the UK and would save pounds 250m a year from 2008.

Norwich Union chief executive Patrick Snowball said the company now sold much of its insurance online and therefore needed fewer staff, although he said the 'huge' reduction in head count was 'regrettable'.

The positions are to be gone by 2008 and half will be through compulsory redundancies. Aviva also said its 107 BSM high street driving schools would shut by December next year, and that all lessons would then be booked over the phone or on the internet.

Union leaders said they were 'disgusted' by the job cuts which were 'absolutely brutal' for the workforce, particularly as 1,000 positions will be moved to India.

The job cuts will be across the company, with positions axed in human resources, marketing, finance and IT. Aviva said the move would 'reduce duplication' of work at the life and general insurance businesses and include the outsourcing of 500 IT roles.

Mr Snowball said the company was now working in a 'self-service world' and was 'always looking for ways of working smarter with fewer people'.

He said, 'We have to ensure that Norwich Union remains a highly efficient and effective company in what is an increasingly competitive and dynamic environment. …