Aviva-owned Norwich Union (NU) has allayed fears of extensive job losses due to its plans to open a 1,000-seat general insurance call centre in India by the year's end.

NU communications director Ben Welsh said it was a "well considered decision based on circumstances in the UK where call centre jobs have a high turnover and we can minimise compulsory redundancies". He said that, despite the 1,000 jobs being created in India, there was a natural turnover and vacancies already existed in the UK.

Private sector union Amicus has sought assurances from the Aviva senior mangement team over job security. It voiced concerns for the 30,000 strong Aviva work force in the country.

Welsh said the insurer had consulted fully with Amicus and would continue to consult with the unions. "It is not a surprise the trade unions are unhappy for companies like us to look at offshoring."

Welsh said the group would assess the effectiveness for both general insurance and life businesses.

"There are two key benefits, which are efficiency and with the time difference in India, we can get people to work during the night UK-time. People are reluctant to work night shifts in the UK," he said.

Aviva's existing activity in India includes a life assurance joint venture launched in 2002. The company outsources claims administrative services and software development work to companies operating in India.