UK unions plan ballot for strike over HSBC restructuring

Unions in the UK are planning ballot for strikes after HSBC announced restructuring plans at its advice arm in a move that could see 1,149 redundancies, according to reports.

The bank said it would scrap its commercial financial adviser division, axe 942 relationship manager positions that do not give advice and merge advisers into its consumer retail banking business.

The restructure would affect 3,166 jobs but the bank said it would create 2,017 new roles.

A Guardian report quoted Unite national officer Dominic Hook as saying that HSBC's move was a 'disgrace'.

He said the employees were at the end of their tether and Unite would be asking them in due course if they were prepared to take part in a strike ballot to oppose this unprecedented attack by the very profitable bank.

HSBC was making staff suffer in the search forever greater profits, Hook said. The bank's behaviour was a disgrace, he added. After making proposals to cut pensions, holidays and sick pay the bank was now slashing even more jobs, he said.

The union also wants the bank to extend the consultation period for redundancies although, according to the bank, it had begun consultation with Unite at the beginning of March.

The bank did not specify the precise number of other roles that would go but 94 "business specialist roles" – staff that supported small business customers – would be cut while 70 international business manager roles would be created. There would be job cuts in "other support functions" too.

Antonio Simoes who was promoted in September to run the retail bank in the UK, said with his first major decision, the proposals, together with the recent removal of all sales targets for the employees and the complete decoupling of incentives from those sales, meant, customers could expect the bank to fully focus on serving their needs and do the right thing. Evolving and improving the bank's culture would take time but the changes announced today were another step in the right direction, he added.

The bank insisted it was "doing everything possible to offer impacted employees opportunities" from 2,017 new jobs that were being created. According to the bank, it was creating a "diploma qualified adviser workforce of 853 people" up from 571 who had the necessary qualifications already.

However, unions were worried that staff would either be based in the wrong part of the UK or may not have the necessary qualifications for the new positions.