French insurance group Axa presented plans on 22 September 2006 to transfer 1,500 jobs to Morocco by 2012. This is not the first time that the company has planned this kind of initiative, but it is the first time that its French operations have been directly affected. While firms elsewhere have been relocating much of their workforces offshore, the French sector has been an 'exception' due to the robust health of the sector. Most of the new staff who will be hired in Morocco will be responsible for tasks such as portfolio management, which the company says require only a short period of training. Axa believes that these measures are needed in order to improve the quality of its services, cut costs and remain competitive. Employee representatives are up in arms over the plan, and have demanded its withdrawal. However, management argues that the move makes sense because it will lead to the saving of 75 million euros a year and improve services due to the extension of working hours. Staff at Axa France work a 34-hour week. This transfer of jobs is part of a wider plan to recruit 3,000 new people between January 2008 and December 2011. According to Axa France, 3,000 of its French employees are to retire before 2012. Consequently, the group Axa has decided to recruit 1,500 commercial employees in France and 1,500 employees in Morocco where its subsidiary company, Direct Insurance, has 100 employees. In winter 2006 the details of its 3,000 new jobs will be negotiated with the trade unions. French Trade unions are angered at the plans to transfer jobs to Morocco, and for the first time in years have presented a united front in order to demand that the management of the company 'abandon' these plans.