There are no retrenchments taking place at Woolworths, only a “transition” to put employees on different contracts, the company said on Monday.
“No. This is not a formal retrenchment exercise,” it said in a statement.
The company said 97 percent of its employees had already started working under the new contract, which required them to work flexible hours.
The old contract required that they work a fixed shift from Monday to Friday, and half-a-day on Saturday.
Woolworths was seeking to move the remaining three percent of workers onto its new contract. This would require staff to work on weekends, to honour the group's undertaking to customers to be open for business every day of the year.
If staffers did not want to work under the new contract, they had the option of leaving with a voluntary severance payment, or taking early retirement if they qualified.
“Employees working flexible hours... are the most appropriate employment arrangement to meet current and future requirements of Woolworths,” chief operating officer Sam Ngumeni said in the statement.
The Star newspaper reported on Monday that about 600 Woolworths workers faced retrenchments or early retirement if they decided not to sign the new contracts. - Sapa