It was recently announced that the UK's largest insurer Norwich Union (a member of the Aviva Group) is to offshore and centralise it operations, causing 2,500 job losses.

Norwich Union is just one of a number of companies making these changes - others include BT, British Airways and the HSBC bank. Abbey (formally Abbey National) has also announced a further 400 job losses in the UK. It has been predicted that up to 2 million financial sector jobs will be exported form the UK over the next 5 years.

Locally, the effects will be devastating. For example, of the 2,500 job losses 350 will be lost at the Norwich Union call centre in Preston. This centre currently services insurance policies which include Age Concern, NUT, ATL and Shell. These job losses came as a great shock to the staff at Preston as just over a year ago Norwich Union spent in excess of £2 million refurbishing their offices. The business from the claims department is being moved to offices in India. 56% of the Preston staff have been employed for less than 2 years and, as a result, will not receive any form of redundancy payment. Also, they have been informed that they will have to remain in employment until the end of March to receive their annual bonus - any staff who leave before this date will not be entitled to anything.

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