Around 11,000 HSBC bank workers were expecting the result of a strike ballot over pay as Socialist Worker went to press.
If the result is a vote in favour of action the workers, members of the Amicus union, will strike on Friday 27 May — the date of HSBC’s annual general meeting.
It is also the day before the bank holiday weekend, so the industrial action would throw the bank’s services into chaos for several days.
If the strike goes ahead it will be the first time banking workers have taken industrial action since 1997.
HSBC is Britain’s most profitable bank — it announced record profits of £9.6 billion this year, up 15 percent on last year. But workers have branded it “the world’s stingiest bank”, since its massive profits are not reflected in staff pay.
The strike ballot was called over plans to cut bonuses and a rotten pay offer that would leave many staff worse off than they were last year.
Of 25,000 HSBC workers covered by the pay arrangements negotiated by Amicus, up to one in ten will get no pay rise at all, while another 45 per cent will get a “rise” that is below the level of inflation.
New starters at HSBC earn just 28p an hour more than the new £5.05 minimum wage figure announced by the government in February.
HSBC has also introduced a bonus scheme which the union says will leave most staff worse off and will hit long-serving staff particularly hard.
Many workers stand to lose thousands of pounds.
An Amicus spokesperson said, “People at HSBC who are not getting pay rises are justifiably angry. They want fair pay.
“If it’s a yes vote, we will be striking on the day of the bank’s AGM and staging a massive demonstration outside.
“Because it’s directly before the bank holiday weekend, HSBC’s services will be disrupted for up to four days.”
She added that the bank would need to “come up with the goods” if it wanted to prevent industrial action.