Cost-cutting NU to transfer jobs

Norwich Union is to transfer 1,000 workers, including 620 in Norwich, to another firm under plans to outsource the administration of three million life and pension policies.

Norwich Union is to transfer 1,000 workers, including 620 in Norwich, to another firm under plans to outsource the administration of three million life and pension policies.

NU said the move to hand over the work to insurance company Swiss Re would improve customer service and cut costs.

But union officials said the move would create “disruption and uncertainty” for staff.

All 1,000 staff are to be transferred to Swiss Re on their existing pay and conditions and will be based in the same offices.

But the transfer does not include pension arrangements which means staff who benefit from NU's final salary pension stand to lose out, as Swiss Re does not offer a similar scheme.

NU said it was unable to give any long term guarantees about the future employment of the staff who are moving to Swiss Re, but said there were no immediate plans to cut jobs.

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Under the plans around 3 million older policies are being transferred out of a total of 8.5 million policies. The remaining policies and new policies will continue to be handled by NU.

NU Life chief executive Mark Hodges said: “This is a major strategic development for Norwich Union. We will continue to underwrite the policies, it is just the administration which is moving to Swiss Re. Calls will be answered as Norwich Union, but it gives us a chance to get rid of dozens of separate IT platforms, which will make managing the policies much easier.

“We thought long and hard about this, but Swiss Re is a very impressive company and this builds on our existing relationship with them.”

Mr Hodges said although he could not give any guarantees about jobs in the future, Swiss Re was looking to build the business, and expand its operations.

He said: “This move will introduce another quality company to Norwich with ambitious plans to grow its operations. They will have a major presence in the city with a well trained workforce.”

Mr Hodges said the issue of the pensions of the staff being transferred was still being discussed.

“Pensions are not covered by the arrangement and we need to consult with staff about that,” he said. “We will need to find a suitable pension for them.”

Amicus regional officer Andy Case said: “Given Norwich Union's track record on redundancy and off-shoring, at least this time around staff will retain their jobs.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “In terms of the overall plan I understand business judgements have to be made about the best ways of being efficient. I have raised the issue of staff pensions with NU to see what arrangements can be made.”