Five of Norwich Union's (NU) Oxford branch staff have been forced to reapply for their jobs for the second time, just one week after starting them.

They had already successfully reapplied for the jobs after Norwich Union and CGU merged last year.

An NU spokeswoman said the five workers were given “migration roles” after the NU merger with CGU last year.

She added the jobs were intended to last until August 2001, then the staff would be transferred to the intermediary business (IB) sector.

However, an NU source said: “The number of people falling by the wayside was in excess of the number of positions available in IB. This resulted in the need to apply for jobs.”

“Each branch going through the process of migration had its own cut-off date, with some being as early as February or March.'

However, one week after the successful applicants started in IB, they were told they would need to reapply for their jobs yet again.

The source said: “Seven working days after starting the new roles, everyone was brought into the meeting room and advised there had been an ongoing review of IB and that the 13 staff in the branch had to be reduced to 11, so we had to start reapplying for our jobs.”

The NU spokeswoman confirmed five employees had only been in their new roles “for a very short space of time” before they learned they had to reapply for one of the 11 jobs.

“It must be stressed that these staff were offered jobs in good faith as, at that time, there were no plans for the restructuring,” she said.

“These employees will go through a selection process for the remaining jobs.”

She said NU would seek to re-deploy the unsuccessful applicants to “keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum”.

However, the source said staff morale was low, regardless of re-deployment. “People have got fed up and left on their own accord because they don't want to go through the process again.”

NU's intermediary business sectors had previously been called complex commercial sectors.

The corresponding personal, finance and rule-based commercial sectors were eradicated completely in many areas.