The Hongkong Bank in Jakarta has warned it will 'do whatever it has to do' under the law if its workers continue a two-day-old strike. The latest strike is part of a second wave of industrial action since January. The strike is also the second labour dispute to hit a foreign bank in Jakarta in as many weeks after protests by Citibank employees on April 4. On Wednesday, about 250 employees out of a total staff of 418 at Hongkong Bank's Indonesia headquarters downed tools indefinitely. The head of the company's unit of the official All-Indonesia Workers Union, Ugianto, was reported saying management had refused to raise salaries and had eliminated some benefits. Chief executive officer Philip Holberton yesterday denied the claims and said the bank was considering a pay freeze and disciplinary action against the errant workers. He said the strike violated a renegotiation agreement signed by the union, management, and the Ministry of Manpower, and was therefore against the law. Under the deal, both sides agreed not to take action while talks were in progress. Mr Holberton said the strike began after a meeting in which the union threatened action if workers were not granted a higher than usual annual consumer price index increase, a general increase and other benefits. He said Ministry of Manpower representatives at the meeting warned the union that a strike would be illegal, describing the action as 'an arrogant show of defiance in the face of a signed agreement'. He said that according to independent surveys, Hongkong Bank employees' salaries and benefits were the highest for foreign banks in Jakarta. Public relations manager Leila Djafaar said the bank would do whatever was necessary to end the strike. She said employees had received an annual average increase of between 15 and 16 per cent and 15 months' pay compared to the compulsory 13 months. Mr Holberton said: 'If we were a sweatshop in the industrial belt paying our workers a pittance, I would see some justification for the union taking such action, but this simply isn't the case.' He said the bank would serve its customers as usual. The latest action follows a protest at the beginning of the year in which workers tried to bring forward the current negotiations by several days. Earlier this month, about 300 workers at Citibank, also negotiating a collective labour agreement, demanded periodic salary increases and other benefits. Banking sources said Indonesia's 10 major foreign banks routinely faced industrial action when their two-year collective labour agreements came up for renegotiation.