HSBC to freeze pay of 13,000 H.K. staff members.
HONG KONG, Dec. 3 Kyodo
Hongkong Bank, the Hong Kong flagship unit of HSBC Holdings PLC,
will freeze pay for its 13,000 staff members for a year from next
January, a bank spokeswoman said Thursday. The step will save the bank
200 million H.K. dollars (about 26 million U.S. dollars), Virginia Lo
said. The bank delivered the notice Tuesday, immediately after it was
decided by the board of directors. The pay freeze will affect almost
all staff, including administrative and non-administrative workers, but
excepting those being promoted to a higher rank. The year-end bonus will
be delivered as usual next Tuesday. Lo attributed the decision to the
worsening business environment after Hong Kong was hit by the Asian
economic turmoil. ''The bank has to control costs despite good
days. Now, in order to maintain our competitiveness, we will not only
consider the staff pay freeze, but also (cutting) other daily costs in
publicity and marketing,'' she said. The profits of the
Hongkong Bank group in the first half of this year dropped 41% from a
year before to 6.09 billion H.K. dollars (about 783 million U.S.
dollars). Most of the staff reacted calmly to the bank's decision.
Pay rises were 7% to 7.5% in 1997 and 5.5% to 6.5 % in 1998.