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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 19:36 GMT 20:36 UK
HSBC to cut 4,000 UK jobs
Front of HSBC bank
HSBC intends to switch work to Asia
High street bank HSBC has confirmed that it is cutting 4,000 jobs at its UK customer service centres over the next three years.

The job cuts are part of plans to transfer work to service centres in China, India and Malaysia from January 2004, an HSBC spokeswoman told the BBC.

The jobs will be lost from sites in Swansea, Birmingham, Sheffield and Brentwood, according to bank workers' union UNIFI.

UNIFI said: "HSBC's move will be the biggest single export of finance jobs from the UK to Asia."

Compulsory cuts

Staff at the four sites were told of the job losses on Thursday afternoon and HSBC said it was planning to tell the rest of the UK workforce on Friday.

"We are very, very angry that they've decided that there are going to be compulsory redundancies," UNIFI spokesman Dai Davies told BBC News Online.

An HSBC spokeswoman confirmed that the bank would implement compulsory redundancies if it proved necessary.

HSBC's decision reflects a growing trend among UK firms to move customer support and call centre jobs to Asia to cut costs.

British Telecom last month drew protests over its plans to switch its directory enquiries service in India, as did insurer Prudential last year.


Mr Davies said that consultations between management and the union had been taking place for more than a month.

"It hasn't been adequate, it's not been consultation it's been information," he said.

HSBC says the UK job cuts are part of a plan begun in 2000 when they started transferring some of their back office and customer support work abroad.

The bank said 1,400 jobs have already been scrapped under this plan earlier this year.

A UNIFI statement said the union was"furious at the scale and pace of HSBC's cost cutting move - 1,500 jobs to go in 2004, a further 2,000 in 2005 and a further 500 in 2006".

The job losses would come through the closure of a site in Swansea, two in Birmingham, and centres in Brentwood in Essex, and Sheffield.

The closure of the Swansea centre would mean 130 job cuts, but the union has warned that jobs could be lost from other HSBC sites in the area.

"These plans will have a devastating effect on the local staff and economy in Swansea," said UNIFI general secretary Rob O'Neill.

The BBC's Juliet Dunlop
"HSBC says the job cuts are down to the tough economic conditions in the UK"

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