IBM (N YSE: IBM) is cutting pay 10 percent for employees designated for training after they were determined to have “not kept pace with acquiring skills and expertise needed to address changing client needs, technology and market requirements.”

The union that is seeking to represent Big Blue workers says the move is “outrageous.”

Workers reacted with anger and sarcasm. (Read WRAL TechWire’s report online.)

“While you spend part of your workweek on learning and development activities, you will receive 90% of your current base salary,” IBM declares in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by WRAL TechWire.

Benefits will not be cut, but other compensation such as 401(k) and employee stock purchase plan, will be adjusted to reflect the pay cut, the memo says.

The workers affected are part of the Global Technology Services, or GTS, unit, which focuses on outsourcing.

IBM employs some 7,500 people across North Carolina. Most of those are based in RTP.

The number of GTS workers in the state is not known.

Lee Conrad, a long-time and now retired IBMer who is the National Coordinator for the Alliance@IBM union, reacted to the memo with anger.

“IBM employees have no problem with learning new skills but to combine that with a salary cut is outrageous and unacceptable,” he declared. “IBM continues to drive morale and employee loyalty down with each new slap in the face like this. IBM needs to be mindful of further demoralizing workers and adversely affecting customers.”

The memo tells designated workers that an assessment of their work found that “some managers and employees have not kept pace with acquiring the skills and expertise needed to address changing client needs, technology and market requirements.”

Recipients were told that retraining will begin next month and continue through March.

“[Y]ou will dedicate up to one day per week,” the memo says, “to focus on learning and development.”

IBM spokeswoman Trink Guarino told Computerworld that IBM “is implementing a skills development program for a small number of U.S. strategic outsourcing employees. Under this program, these employees will spend one day a week developing skills in key growth areas such as cloud, analytics, mobile and social.”