Johannesburg - Almost 140 Absa employees are being forced to resign from the company in order to circumvent a mass retrenchment, trade union Solidarity said on Thursday.
"Employees at Absa were notified by e-mail this week that they will be retrenched on 9 June. This came in spite of Absa's continued denial that it is carrying out retrenchments," Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said in a statement.
"Absa went even further and sent employees forms with which to resign from the company... we are astounded by the callousness with which Absa is carrying out the process."
He said the IT employees were escorted out of Absa's offices and sent home for a three-month "gardening leave". They were told that Absa would consider them for other positions in the company.
"If employees complete and sign this [resignation] form, then it is no longer a case of retrenchment, but of resignation," Hermann said.
"The employees will therefore not be entitled to severance pay or unemployment insurance. From a legal perspective the implication is that someone who worked for Absa for 40 years will be walking away without a cent."
Absa spokesperson Zain Khan said the employees were placed on "a three-month re-assignment process".
"A dedicated... reassignment centre was set up to assist these employees with finding employment elsewhere in the Absa businesses," he said.
"All options were exhausted and discussions now commenced with those individuals who either opted not to take up available options within the business, or simply could not be placed because their skills did not match available opportunities."
Khan said Absa was "managing their exit out of the organisation".
"This does not, in any way, reflect a mass retrenchment exercise, as per our agreement with our recognised labour union Sasbo [SA Society of Bank Officials]."