Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/455/5562
Quote me happy? You must be joking!
Norwich Union dumps another 4,000 workers
NORWICH UNION is dumping another 4,000 workers, half of which will be compulsory redundancies.
By a Norwich Union worker
For the second time in three years, workers woke up to the news with no prior warning from the company that their jobs were to go. Then company bosses had the nerve to tell furious staff not to speak to the media.
An internal memo from incoming Chairman Patrick Snowball showed the lack of regard for the feelings of workers: "Today we are announcing the outcome of a business review across Norwich Union, which will lead to cost savings of £250 million from 2008.
"As a result of the review we expect that the number of roles within the UK will fall by about 4,000, around half of which are anticipated to be through compulsory redundancies. Up to 500 roles will be outsourced to third party suppliers, while 1,000 roles will be offshored to India, as part of the 7,800 roles we have previously announced."
Yet the company announced record profits for the first half of the year - £1.7 billion, an increase of 27% on the previous half year. The fact that it is prepared to axe 4,000 more jobs, as well as the 7,800 announced last year, shows that the company has a great deal of regard for its shareholders and directors, and none whatsoever for its long-suffering workforce.
Norwich Union (NU) is part of the huge multinational giant Aviva. It pays its workers on the Indian subcontinent a pittance with no pay rise to UK staff this year. Instead we are paid a "bonus" at the company's discretion, based on the "performance levels" of individual teams.
Workers at NU headquarters in York have spoken of "pay rises" of just 1% of their annual salary. Norwich Union workers are taking an annual pay cut, with bosses and shareholders bagging the difference.
The announcement of 7,800 job losses last year was met with a muted and pessimistic response. However this time the company may have pushed its UK workforce too far, as dozens called for industrial action to defend its already demoralised and infuriated workforce.
As one worker said to the local media: "Union members expect the Amicus leadership to take a principled stand on this and call a ballot for strike action. I would vote Yes to a strike, and I know many other employees - union members or not - would support it as well."
In The Socialist 21 September 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Youth and Education
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis