UK unions have promised to fight plans by banking giant HSBC to outsource 4000 call centre and back office processing jobs to sites in Asia over the next three years.
HSBC has confirmed it plans to close five back-office processing centres in Swansea, Sheffield, Birmingham and Brentwood by the end of 2005 and will transfer the work to China, India and Malaysia.
Financial workers union Unifi has reacted angrily to the plans, accusing the bank of "putting profits before people" and says it is prepared to take industrial action over the plans - which it says represent the biggest ever single export of finance jobs from the UK to Asia.
Rob O'Neill, Unifi official, says: "The world's local bank has shown that if the job can be done cheaper somewhere else then they'll move it. We will fight tooth and nail to get the bank to reconsider its actions."
In addtion, UK union Amicus, which also has members among the HSBC workforce, says it will be seeking urgent talks with the bank to try to save as many jobs as possible.
Amicus' joint general secretary Roger Lyons, told press: "Companies which outsource jobs without consultation with staff or policy holders must be prepared for a backlash from the public."
In a statement HSBC Bank says: "Every effort will be made to accomplish the changes without involuntary redundancies but it will not be possible to avoid these entirely."
HSBC plans to move 1500 positions from Britain in 2004, another 2000 in 2005 and 500 more in 2006. Bill Dalton, chief executive, HSBC Bank, says the moves are necessary for the bank to stay competitive.