Absa backtracks on IT retrenchments

Absa has withdrawn the notices of retrenchment given to its IT employees, finance union Sasbo said on Monday. “In a letter to Sasbo, the bank advised it would withdraw the notices of retrenchment sent to IT staff today [Monday],” Sasbo assistant general secretary Comfort Duma said in a statement.

He said an urgent meeting was held between Sasbo and Absa on Saturday evening. “The union expressed its outrage at the bank having unilaterally issued retrenchment notices to IT staff via e-mail,” he said.

Sasbo demanded that Absa withdraw all retrenchment letters by noon on Monday. Duma said the union would hold talks with Absa on the retrenchments. “The bank has agreed to engage further with the union on this matter,” he said.

Trade union Solidarity welcomed the withdrawal of the notices. “Absa’s announcement that the notices will be withdrawn is a big step in the right direction and is in effect an admission of its unacceptable conduct,” said Dirk Hermann, deputy general secretary of Solidarity, on Monday.

Hermann said last week that Absa was forcing around 140 employees to resign in order to circumvent a mass retrenchment.
The IT employees were told via e-mail that they would be retrenched on 9 June, he said.

He said the employees were escorted out of Absa’s offices and sent home for three months of “gardening leave”. They were told Absa would consider them for other positions in the company.

Solidarity sent an urgent letter to Absa last week, demanding that the bank withdraw the retrenchment notices and the resignation forms employees were asked to sign.

“Employees who filled in and submitted the resignation form have resigned and will as a result not be entitled to severance pay or unemployment insurance,” Hermann said. “From a legal perspective, the implication is that someone who worked for Absa for 40 years will walk away without a cent if he submits the resignation form.”

Last week, Absa said the employees were placed on “a three-month reassignment process”.

“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,” Absa said.

“This does not, in any way, reflect a mass retrenchment exercise, as per our agreement with our recognised labour union Sasbo,” the bank said.

Absa said on Monday it would comment by 4.30pm, but had not done so by 5pm.  — Sapa

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