THE union representing most employees of Hongkong Bank in Manila has warned of an ''imminent disastrous showdown'' with management as talks between the two sides broke down. In a letter sent to the bank's customers, the HSBC Employees Union accused management of ''confrontational, provocative and threatening policies''. It said relations between the two soured after the bank unilaterally imposed a new job evaluation programme and salary scale outside a collective bargaining agreement. ''Despite repeated demands by the union to suspend implementation of this programme, such demands were ignored by management, forcing us to exert our right to concerted action, like picketing,'' the union said. It also accused the bank of oppressing the rights of union members guaranteed under the constitution and labour code. ''The industrial relations at this bank [are] at its worst condition leading to an imminent disastrous showdown,'' the letter said. The union's collective bargaining agreement with the bank came up for renewal last month. It said under the bank's plan, pay for junior employees would be reduced. Mr David Hodgkinson, the bank's chief executive for the Philippines, said ''differences of opinion'' continued to exist between the two sides. He said the bank suspended talks after the union launched unspecified actions. He said the actions that upset the talks had gone beyond mere picketing, which the union has been doing for several weeks during lunch breaks at the bank's Makati headquarters. ''We are continuing to work to overcome these differences so that negotiations may resume,'' Mr Hodgkinson said. It is not clear how the union obtained the bank's client list to send the letter. Union president Peter Gamelo refused to comment on the letter. He said there had been no progress in resolving the dispute since the bank broke off talks on March 19. ''The management refused to continue negotiating on the grounds that we are continuing our concerted action,'' Mr Gamelo said. ''They have accused us of negotiating in bad faith.'' About 200 of the bank's 280 employees in the Philippines are members of the union.