Updated 5.36pm with government statement

HSBC UK is to close its global call centre in Swatar in June, with a loss of around 200 jobs, staff have been told. 

The bank informed workers on Thursday afternoon that it intended to close the centre as part of a wider restructuring exercise to streamline its operations.

Sources said the around 200 workers of HSBC Global Services (UK) Limited Malta Branch (HSMB), locally known as HSBC Swatar Contact Centre, were informed of the company’s decision during a specially convened meeting.

HSMB is a separate legal entity from HSBC Bank Malta plc so the bank's operations in Malta will not be affected by the decision.

It serves HSBC UK Bank plc exclusively and primarily provides customer service and customer due diligence to UK customers.

Sources said that although this had been on the horizon for many months, none of the staff members saw it coming. 

'People were in tears'

A worker told Times of Malta that all call centre workers were summoned into a meeting at 3pm.

“People were in tears... it's so shocking. They are just shutting the whole thing down. Everybody is in shock. It's not good for Malta,” the worker said.

"Staff who have mortgages and home loans with HSBC are worried as they are concerned their rate will go up and third country nationals are very worried because of work permits."

It is understood that 30% of the staff are Maltese.

Some staff members were tearful as they left the contact centre on Thursday but declined to speak to the media. 

HSBC reassures commitment to Malta

A company spokesperson confirmed the decision which she said in no way impacts HSBC Bank Malta plc.

"The decision to close the contact centre operations follows an extensive review of the locations that serve HSBC UK Bank plc customers," they said in a statement later.

"The closure aims to achieve further consolidation and rationalisation of regional contact centres."

In a statement HSBC Bank Malta p.l.c. said it remains an active participant in the local economy and community and is committed to offering the best service to its customers.

It said it was committed to investing in Malta and, as announced in August, throughout 2024, the Bank will be replacing and upgrading its ATM network.  In the first quarter of 2024, it will officially inaugurate its new premises in Qormi – HSBC Hub – a capital investment of €30 million.

HSMB employees at the centre will now be subjected to its redundancy policies. HSBC promised to support its employees as they explore alternative opportunities. Local authorities have held discussions to explore the possibility of impacted employees moving to new opportunities at other local contact centres.

The call centre was opened in November 2006.

At the time, HSBC said Malta was an attractive base for customer services due to the high standard of Maltese employees particularly in the IT communications and financial services sector, coupled with the prevalence of English. 

Ministry to help workers find alternative jobs

The Economy Ministry said it had been informed by HSBC that the closure of the call centre was part of an international restructuring by the group, and would have no impact on HSBC Bank operations in Malta.

The ministry said its contacts with local operators in this sector showed they had a large number of vacancies and would therefore facilitate the rapid re-employment of the contact centre employees.    

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