HSBC on 16 May started the process of laying off 840 information technology (IT) employees, in the UK. Of these, 595 jobs are based in Sheffield, while the others are across London, Leeds and Birmingham. The jobs will be outsourced to Poland, China and India.
John Hackett, chief operating officer of HSBC UK, said: "As part of a global relocation exercise, around 840 non-customer-facing IT roles will transfer from the UK to other sites around the world by the end of March 2017. The UK will continue to play an important role in HSBC's global IT infrastructure, employing several thousand IT professionals."
This is HSBC's first wave of job redundancies and is part of its three-year restructuring plan announced last year that will in total eliminate 8,000 British jobs by the end of 2017. The job redundancies are not limited to the UK as 50,000 jobs are being cut worldwide.
These translate to about 20% of the jobs around the world, and about a sixth of jobs in the UK. The cuts are aimed at improving the earnings of Europe's largest bank, which has suffered from high costs in recent times.
At the time of announcing the restructuring plan, chief executive officer, Stuart Gulliver, had said most of the job losses in the country would come from employees leaving on their own. The current job cuts seem to be otherwise.
This has prompted anger in Unite, the UK's biggest trade union which has 1.42 million members. Dominic Hook, Unite's national officer for finance, said: "HSBC's decision to axe so many IT jobs is as ruthless as it is reckless. For almost a year staff have been left in the dark about their futures, only to be told that before being shown the door they're expected to train someone in India or China who will do their job for less money. It's a deeply cynical move by a bank which wants to be an 'employer of choice'.
Hook was also not happy with the company's decision to outsource the jobs. "Offshoring IT jobs to so-called 'low-cost economies' is extremely short-sighted. As IT glitches across the banks continue to prove, it is ultimately the customers who will suffer the consequences," he said.
As of December 2015, HSBC had 47,000 workers in the UK, according to its most recent annual report.