LIFE and pensions group Standard Life plans to axe a further 1000 Scots jobs over the next two years despite announcing bumper profits The Edinburgh-based firm, with 10,500 UK staff, has slashed 4500 posts since the start of 2004. Now bosses want to lose another 1000 before 2009 in a bid to trim the wage bill.

Around 7500 of the group's workforce are based in Edinburgh and it's hoped the majority of the cuts can be achieved through staff turnover instead of redundancies.

Chief executive Sandy Crombie, who announced the cost-saving plans at the same time as Standard posted an operating profit of £614million, said: "I don't want to imply that 1000 people will be leaving the building soon.

"This is the impact of requiring 1000 fewer positions filled in 2009 than would have been the case if we didn't find these efficiencies."

Standard Life has been a major beneficiary from the new UK pension rules, brought in last year, with contribution from new business up six-fold.

David Fleming, of the Amicus union, said: "This is all about profit for the shareholders at the expense of a very loyal workforce."

He added that the union wanted assurances that there would be no compulsory redundancies.

Amicus said that since the firm announced plans to cut the final salary pension scheme, at least 1000 staff had joined the union.

Kenny MacAskill, SNP Lothians MSP, said: "I would hope that Standard Life remembers the loyalty shown by its workforce."

Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, added: "There have been a number of developments at Standard Life which have concerned many who work there and these redundancies come as another blow."