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HSBC to close Welsh call centre

Posted on Mar 26 2009
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The firm, which has around 58,000 staff in the UK, said the cuts would hit backroom areas, such as IT and human resources, rather than front-line employees in branches.

Its Newport call centre, where HSBC last year planned to increase staffing levels to 450, will close with the loss of about 90 jobs.

The centre specialises in general insurance. However, the announcement doesn’t affect the bank’s Swansea banking call centre which employs 1,000.

HSBC chief executive for Wales, Alan Jarman, said the company would provide all the support it could to help people affected find alternative employment, either within HSBC or externally.

He added: “Last year we announced plans to increase the size of our operations in Newport to handle general outbound customer calls. However, significant improvements in service delivery and the rapidly changing economic environment mean this is no longer going to be viable and we have had to make this very regrettable decision.

“HSBC is a strong bank, but we have to look to the future and ensure we are operating as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible and, unfortunately, this means that some very difficult decisions have to be taken.”

Mr Jarman said despite the closure of the Newport operations, HSBC job numbers in Wales were stable at about 2,750 people after increasing resources at its Swansea operations over the past year.

Liberal Democrat AM Mike German said: “HSBC say that the Newport operation is no longer viable for a number of reasons.

“Only in June of last year I was welcoming the news of the bank’s decision to invest in Newport, then creating over 150 jobs. One of the major reasons for Newport’s ‘win’ was the quality of the service being provided by existing staff. Newport beat off strong competition from other sites in the UK and most notably from India.”

“ I will be asking the bank how, in the space of just nine months... and based on concrete reasons for choosing Newport as the first place to make redundancies. they have made a complete turnabout.”

“HSBC’s investment of £14m in Newport is in danger and I will be asking the Welsh Assembly Government to pull out all the stops, save local jobs, and secure that investment that was due to be made this year and in 2010.”

The staff union, Unite, said 2,900 jobs will be axed at HSBC, including 500 being off-shored to India. The union said a number of local communities would be “ravaged” as sites were closed and work moved abroad.

Officials also claimed that the bank was effectively setting up a two-tier system of dealing with customers.

Premier customers will be serviced from centres in the UK, while basic and other account holders will be covered from India, it said.

Unite also accused the bank of failing to hold proper consultations over the job losses.

Leader Derek Simpson said: “To slash 2,900 jobs demonstrates the insincerity of the claim by HSBC to be the world’s local bank. This decision will ravage a number of local communities as sites are closed and other work is sent abroad.

“Customers of HSBC will be furious to learn that the company only believes you deserve to have a local banking service if you are a wealthy premier customer.

“Unite can see no justification for the efficient and dedicated staff in the UK to lose their jobs and all basic and standard current accounts to be serviced from India. This is a kick in the teeth of the bank’s employees.”

Financial services firm Legal & General, which employs 2,000 in Cardiff, also yesterday confirmed plans to cut its UK workforce by 10%. However, it is unclear what the impact will be in Cardiff.


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