Axed Sheffield HSBC workers told to train their foreign replacements

Many of Sheffield's 600 HSBC workers who are losing their jobs have been told to train up their foreign replacements in India, China and Poland before they are made redundant.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 16th May 2016, 5:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2016, 11:51 am
Griffin House, home of HSBC in Sheffield
Griffin House, home of HSBC in Sheffield

Union Unite has said the banking giant has taken a ‘deeply cynical’ decision to order IT staff who face losing their jobs to help their replacements understand their work.

A source said the training announcement was ‘particularly galling’ for staff who have had to wait almost a year to find their jobs were going after HSBC announced in June 2015 it was preparing to axe roles in the UK.

Griffin House HSBC Building on Silver Street Head in Sheffield

HSBC has confirmed some workers will be expected to conduct the training. The bank said it is ‘standard practice that a period of handover is required when roles are relocated’.

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Staff at HSBC’s Griffin House headquarters on Silver Street Head in Sheffield city centre said they had been told not to speak to the media about the job cuts announcement.

Workers leave the HSBC building in Sheffield where 600 redundancies have been announced

But Dominic Hook, Unite 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’.”

Mr Hook also raised concern about the potential impact of the move on bank customers, despite the roles being axed being described as ‘non-customer facing’ IT jobs.

Griffin House HSBC Building on Silver Street Head in Sheffield

He said: “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.

“Unite will continue to support our members throughout this process and work with our sister international trade unions to end this cynical race to the bottom.”

Staff were told details of the devastating job cuts on Monday morning.

HSBC is moving 840 internal IT roles out of the UK - including 595 in Sheffield and Tankersley - to other sites around the world by the end of March 2017.

Workers leave the HSBC building in Sheffield where 600 redundancies have been announced

Around 490 of the roles being moved out of the country are in Sheffield, with about 105 at the company’s data centre in Tankersley.

Thirty jobs are to go in Leeds, with the other roles being cut mainly based in London.

The move means HSBC is cutting almost 20 per cent of its 3,200 Sheffield employees – but the bank said the city will remain ‘a major centre of excellence for our IT operations’.

The decision is part of plans announced by HSBC in June last year to cut 8,000 jobs in the UK as part of a £3bn savings drive. It said it intended to move jobs to ‘low-cost/high-quality’ locations.

HSBC is also going to close four Sheffield bank branches in the next few months.

Branches in Woodseats, Ecclesall Road and Hillsborough are to shut in August, with the smaller of its two Fargate branches closing in November.

The bank says all 14 employees across the four branches will be ‘redeployed’.

Many of the affected IT employees are based at HSBC’s Griffin House offices in Sheffield city centre.

John Hackett, chief operating officer of HSBC UK, said: “Sheffield is a key regional hub for HSBC and remains a major centre of excellence for our IT operations.

“We are in advanced discussions with Sheffield City Council about investing in a new office building, and will continue to employ more than 2,700 people in Sheffield after these redundancies.

“We support more than 7,000 business customers in Sheffield, and we recently launched a £850m loan fund for businesses in Yorkshire.”

The news is the latest blow to the local economy, with a final decision due next week on the Government closing its business department office in Sheffield, affecting 250 workers.

There is also uncertainty about the future of Tata Steel’s sites in Stocksbridge and Rotherham, which employ around 2,000 people.

Sheffield Council is also looking to shed 400 jobs to deal with budget cuts.

Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “Losing your job is devastating and my thoughts are with those affected, but for HSBC to cut 600 jobs in Sheffield is difficult to understand and will be a devastating blow to the whole city.

“I hope Sheffield City Council is now doing all it can to secure a deal with HSBC for a new premises to prevent further job losses for the city in the future.”

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is terrible news, I’m really, really disappointed.

“It is bad for the city.

“HSBC is one of the biggest employers in Sheffield and we were obviously home of Midland Bank which is part of HSBC now.”

He said he was concerned more skilled jobs are being lost in the city in the wake of the Department of Business planning to shut its Sheffield policy office, which is expected to result in 250 redundancies.

“It is not just the actual size of the redundancies, it is the quality of the jobs and the skills being lost,” said Mr Wright.

“I hope this isn’t a portent of things to come.

“This is one of the reasons we have been trying to fight to get HS2 in the right place. We need to support professional services and banking.

“There is the problem with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the problem with HSBC – we have got to ask ourselves are we doing everything we need to do as a city? It is a big worry.”

Business minister Anna Soubry, who was in Sheffield visiting steel firm Outokumpu, was shocked at the announcement.

She said: “That’s really bad news. I have seen these steelworks and I know the huge value steel and manufacturing has to Sheffield. It’s a great city and we are going to make sure we make the best of it.

“We have got two cracking universities and colleges and we have to make sure the Local Enterprise Partnership is doing the work it should be doing to make sure when you get this sort of shock you have got a strong local economy to absorb the job losses.”

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