HSBC AGM faces demonstration as workers demand pensions justice
- Friday 29 April 2022
Members of Unite the union will be protesting outside the HSBC annual general meeting (AGM) on Friday 29th April about the bank’s refusal to give them pension justice.
WHEN: Friday 29 April 2022
WHERE: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX,
TIME: 10am BST
Former and current employees are demonstrating to expose and stop an unfair practice known as ‘clawback’ after it emerged that thousands of them are having as much as £2,500 a year snatched from their hard earned company pension pay outs.
Dominic Hook, Unite national officer, said: “It is disgraceful that this profitable and wealthy multinational bank is withholding from pensioners a significant amount of their pension. These pensioners worked hard to earn this income for their retirement. The shameful practice of clawback could be costing a HSBC employee as much as £2,500 per year in lost pension pay-outs.
“Unite is calling on HSBC to address the practice of clawback which not only disproportionately penalises the lowest paid but also mainly female employees.”
There will be a media photo call at 10am before the AGM starts. Demonstrators will be holding placards and leafletting attendees of the meeting.
Sharon McGeough-Adams, from the clawback campaign group said: “Thousands of pensioners, who like me worked hard for HSBC, now find themselves facing hardship in old age because HSBC is denying us the pension we deserve. This is no way for a wealthy profitable company to treat the loyal workforce who contributed to its success.
“Our campaign against clawback is because we only want the pension we were promised. HSBC needs to urgently end the injustice of its clawback policy which is causing many people to have to choose between food and fuel in their retirement.”
The staff argue that clawback is grossly unfair, disproportionately penalising the lowest paid, mainly women, forced to take time off to raise children. Find out more about the Unite Clawback campaign by viewing the video.
Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.
For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Saba Edwards 07768 693 953
Notes to editors:
What is clawback? Clawback is the practice of cutting an employee’s company pension on the grounds that they will also receive the state pension. The first time people are likely to become aware of it is when they reach state pension age. This could be years after they started receiving their company pension, and discover that their income has suddenly been reduced.
Who’s affected? 51,000 former Midland employees are affected by clawback. HSBC UK had 190,751 pension scheme members across 23 schemes as of December 2016. Only one scheme, the post 1975 to 1996 2/3rd Defined Benefit Scheme suffers clawback, representing 27% of all HSBC pension scheme members. The lowest paid are hit the most, and the worst affected are women. Clawback may affect other pensioners in Defined Benefit Schemes but nobody knows how many are affected or by how much.
Background Integrated pensions became statute in 1948 to help reduce the cost of the newly introduced national insurance contributions for employers by allowing clawback. It helped, as it was linked to a low level then of state pension. As the state pension increased the impact on the lowest paid became crippling and the public sector and many companies capped or cancelled clawback. However, in 1974, almost 30 years later Midland Bank decided to implement this archaic practice. HSBC, which acquired Midland Bank, continued to call the pension a 2/3rd final salary scheme and not an integrated pension. It refer to the clawback as ‘STATE DEDUCTION’, a misleading term still used to this day. The bank closed the scheme to new entrants in 1996 on the basis that the world had moved on and it was no longer appropriate to continue a non-contributory final salary pension scheme. Yet it continues clawback because “it was a common feature of schemes in the 1970s” so must continue.
Case studies are available on request.
Barbara joined Midland Bank in 1965. When she became entitled to her state pension at 60, HSBC reduced her annual pension income by £1,009 a year. This from a gross pension of just £3,507 – that’s a 30 per cent loss. Barbara had also lost 11 years of her pension rights simply for getting married, because of policies at the time.
By contrast a senior manager with a pension of £75,000 will lose a mere 3 per cent.
Yvonne joined Midland bank in 1976, just after State Deduction was introduced. After 28 years she chose to take ill health retirement and look elsewhere for work. Whilst not well paid, at least she was appreciated a bit more. The small lump sum she took at retirement has long gone, settling debts and helping her to have a bit of a life. Now aged 60, she lives alone and is struggling on a pension of less than £5,000 a year. And before long, she will lose £1,460 in clawback, a whopping 26% of her pension. She knows that she will struggle to live just day to day.
“I felt so lucky to get that job”, recalls Christine (Chris) when she started work at Midland Folkstone, back in 1969. In 1979, she left the branch to start a family. Returning to work part time in 1986. Chris confirms she only found out about clawback when she took her pension. She assumed this was how all companies operated when staff got to state pension age. She was heartbroken to discover £100 per month (20%) would be taken from her £5500 pension. “I now have to think long and hard before l buy anything that is not a necessity, but a small treat.” She exclaims sadly.