HSBC Bank Malta has issued an early retirement scheme for employees to reduce its workforce and focus on improving productivity and cost-effectiveness.

In a notice on the Malta Stock Exchange, the bank said the scheme was part of a drive to continue streamlining its operations while investing in areas of growth and compliance.

It said the estimated cost of this one-off expenditure would depend on the number of applications received as the programme was voluntary.

HSBC said the programme would reduce profitability in this financial year but would support an increased level of profitability and efficiency in future years.

The bank said it was committed to maintain dialogue on this initiative with all stakeholders, including unions, in the interest of its shareholders, customers, employees and the community. It was confident in its ability to grow its business in Malta and supported the local economy while creating value for its shareholders. Sources said the bank issued the call following several requests by employees.

When contacted, Malta Union of Bank Employees president William Portelli said the union had been informed about the bank’s retirement scheme.

He said the union “understood the situation” and that the local management was acting on “orders from abroad”.

“They consulted us on the matter. It is a totally voluntary scheme and there is nothing mandatory, so the process will start,” Mr Portelli said.

The sources said the package employees received in early retirement schemes was equivalent to about three times their annual salary.

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