* Union says 2,900 jobs in all to be cut
* HSBC says environment in Britain “extremely challenging”
* Bank says most of the cuts in processing and operations
(Adds comments from union, detail from bank)
By Steve Slater
LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L)(0005.HK) is cutting about 1,200 jobs in Britain, saying the operating environment for the battered banking industry was “extremely challenging” and would remain so for some time.
Unite, a union representing HSBC staff, said the changes announced on Wednesday would result in 2,900 jobs being lost.
A spokesman for HSBC said 1,200 people were being told their jobs were at risk. That figure does not include vacant positions that won’t be filled, natural attrition of staff and the end of contracted positions, the bank said.
Many staff are also expected to be put into new positions.
Unite said the news “is a kick in the teeth” for staff and criticised the move to service basic and standard current accounts from India.
“HSBC is a profitable institution and the announcement today is simply using the financial downturn as a pretext to make redundancies,” said Derek Simpson, Unite joint general secretary.
HSBC said most of the cuts will be in processing and operations, with some losses in finance, human resources and information technology. But no customer service staff in branches will be affected, the bank said in a statement.
The spokesman said the bank will close an operations centre in Leamington Spa, central England, affecting 290 jobs and another in Newport, Wales, affecting 90 staff.
HSBC cut 500 jobs at its UK banking business in December following a review of the business, and axed 1,100 investment banking jobs in September.
HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, employs about 58,000 people in Britain and 312,000 people globally.
Its shares were unchanged at 391.25 pence at 0945 GMT. (Editing by Dan Lalor)