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Global Economics

HSBC, Credit Suisse Swing the Axe

As financial crisis bites deeper, the two big banks are both trimming their workforces in Britain. A trade union reacted with fury

Another 1,150 redundancies in Britain's banking industry were announced yesterday as Credit Suisse (CS) cut 10 per cent of its UK workforce and HSBC (HBC)said it was axing 500 jobs.

Credit Suisse, which has offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester, said it would cut 650 jobs. A spokesman for the Swiss bank blamed "market conditions and projected staffing levels required to meet client needs".

HSBC also said it was making cuts because of the tough economic climate and in order to cut duplication. Most of the jobs will go from support functions such as legal and finance at the bank's London headquarters at Canary Wharf, where about 8,000 of its 58,000 employees work. The rest will be cut from HSBC's business banking operations around the country.

The bank said the cuts would affect fewer than 500 people because some would be redeployed. But Unite, Britain's biggest trade union, reacted with fury to HSBC's decision, accusing the bank of using the economic slowdown as an excuse to axe jobs at a time when staff are vulnerable. The union pledged to oppose compulsory redundancies.

Derek Simpson, Unite's joint general secretary, said: "The decision by HSBC to make 500 job cuts is a disgrace. Unite is appalled that this news has been delivered so close to Christmas. The union has seen no business rationale for these job losses. The bank has again reported an increase in half-yearly profit and continues to do well."

HSBC has had frosty relations with unions in recent years. The job cuts come soon after the bank watered down proposals to reduce benefits of its final-salary pension scheme after Unite threatened to strike over the plan.

HSBC's UK managing director, Paul Thurston, said of the cuts: "We deeply regret this step, but consider it essential to ensure our business is operating as efficiently as possible and we are best placed to deal with the downturn."

Provided by The Independent—from London, for Independent minds

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