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A golden age for crisis comms

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A PR battle is heading HSBC’s way, one I fear it may lose.

The Guardian reports here on moves by the bank to cut staff pensions.

Employers are apparently allowed to reduce payments once former staff become eligible for the state pension. I didn’t know this and it sounds completely wrong on the face of it.

Some tweets side with the bank, arguing that the employer is actually subsidising the pension before the state payments become available, then reclaiming its own money afterwards.

It looks like the scheme is legal, but MPs are involved and a court may have to decide.

It will be interesting to see how the bank behaves here. Even if it what it is doing it justified and commonplace, this may be a scrap it does not want.

(HSBC notes that this issue has been around for a while and came up at its latest AGM.)

Pensions are emotive subjects at the best of times. And since there is no danger of executive pensions being reduced (they only go up, always), the bank might decide this is a kicking it wants to avoid.

I think there might be quite a lot of that in the next couple of years as big companies decide that behaviour it would have defended in the past looks rather different in a Covid or post Covid world.

For campaigners, this could be a golden age of taking on the corporate world and winning.

If they can find a pressure point, generate some noise and chuck in a badly treated nurse here or there, they are halfway home.

The crisis comms team is about to get very busy.

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