Finance firms cut 1,100 UK jobs

Scottish Provident staff had feared the worst news from Abbey
Finance sector workers have suffered a double blow with news that Abbey and Axa are to cut 1,100 UK jobs.
French insurance firm Axa said it was shedding up to 700 jobs, including 220 at Darlington and Morecambe.

Banking giant Abbey said it was closing offices in Warrington and Derby with the loss of 400 jobs and moving some telephone enquiry jobs to India.

But there was a reprieve for 700 staff at its Scottish Provident arm, based in Edinburgh, whose jobs will not be cut.

However, those jobs and 200 others will be moved to Glasgow by the end of 2004, with staff having the option of voluntary redundancy.

Union Amicus called the Scottish measure "redundancy by the back door".

We have taken some tough business decisions today that are absolutely necessary to the health of Abbey's future

Luqman Arnold,
Abbey chief executive
Axa said it would trim a further 480 jobs in addition to the Darlington and Morecambe posts, through efficiencies and as a result of plans to move some operations to India.

Abbey told BBC News Online that it would guarantee enhanced salary packages for the 900 Scottish workers, and that all workers would be supported if they wanted to make the move.

And it said it had reached the jobs' agreement after discussions with officially-recognised union Angu (Abbey National Group Union).

Five centres

Abbey currently has more than 40 sites in the UK, excluding branches, and said it wanted to moving to fewer, larger centres, based in five key locations.

I have no desire to move to the Glasgow office, whatever the incentives offered, as people have friends and family here

Carole Ritchie, Edinburgh
The company said it was investing £25m in IT, training and the sites in Belfast, Bradford, Glasgow, Milton Keynes and Sheffield.

"We have taken some tough business decisions today that are absolutely necessary to the health of Abbey's future and for giving our customers better service at a competitive price," said chief executive Luqman Arnold.

"We recognise that this will not be welcome news to the people affected, but we have also been able to take away uncertainty for others, and give reassurance that we are investing in our key locations."

The company said it had an agreement with Angu, that employees will be given at least six months' warning of site closures.

'Negotiated measures'

Angu said it had consistently made it clear to the company that the transfer of jobs abroad was wrong for employees, customers and the UK.

"Sadly, the company has refused to stop this initiative and so we have negotiated a range of measures to minimise the impact on our members and maximise their opportunity for redeployment within the company," said general secretary Linda Rolph.

Union Amicus, which is leading a campaign against the "offshoring" of call centre jobs, attacked the decision to move to India, saying it was a "fallacy" that customer service would be improved.

"Offshoring is purely intended to cut costs," said a spokesman.

And David Fleming, finance officer for Amicus, told BBC News Online: "Asking 900 people and their families to uproot from Edinburgh to Glasgow, or travel 50 miles to work every day is nothing more than redundancy by the back door."

The company says "staff will be offered enhanced packages to encourage them to relocate or commute to Glasgow".

Major overhaul

Abbey, which employs around 23,000 people in the UK, bought Edinburgh-based insurance business Scottish Provident in 2001.

It said it was not closing any aspect of its UK life, investment and protection businesses.

What the decision means for customers
Abbey insists that it is business as usual at Scottish Provident, which has 750,000 customers.
Scottish Provident will continue to sell protection products, such as critical illness cover
The Scottish Provident with-profits fund was closed to new business in August 2001
Amicus regional officer Hugh Scullion said before the meeting that Abbey had "refused to enter into meaningful consultation with the union".

Independent banking analyst Dr Catherine Smith said the moves made sense as Abbey as a whole was experiencing a general "slimming down".

Abbey embarked on a three-year overhaul of its operations in 2003 as it sank into the red with a £984m full-year loss following a disastrous foray into wholesale banking.

Abbey is selling its wholesale banking operations and restructuring its core UK personal financial services business.

Per i non inglesisti:
Il gigante bancario Abbey e la società di assicurazioni Axa hanno tagliato posti in Gran Bretagna per spostarli in India a causa del costo minore.
La notizia interessante è che dopo la delocalizzazione industriale,sta avvenendo quella che gli "esperti" pensavano non avvenisse,ovvero la delocalizzazione del settore servizi.
Proprio pochi giorni in un articolo comparso sul Sole 24 Ore,il primo consigliere economico di Blair,ha messo in guardia da questo fenomeno poichè non è assolutamente detto che se l'industria delocalizza,il terziario non può farlo: infatti spiegava che è possibile che il terziario e la ricerca seguano il settore industriale poichè è difficile immaginare un Paese che campa solo di terziario.Servizi per cosa si chiedeva il tizio?Per ditte a 10000 Km di distanza?
Alla fine tal consigliere è giunto praticamente a 2 conclusioni: o l'€uropa diventerà nel futuro un immenso centro mondiale off-shore,o urge mettere dazi onde evitare masse di disoccupati in €uropa.
Può darsi che la sua posizione sia troppo pessimista,ma i rischi ci sono.
Sicuramente,nel nostro caso,se la Padania fosse libera ci sarebbe sicuramente molto + denaro per incentivare le aziende private a inserirsi nei settori tecnologicamente avanzati e a lasciando ai cinesi i prodotti a basso valore aggiunto.Se fosse libera però...