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Thursday, October 29, 2020
16.1 C

    Members vote to strike

    “This unique certificate paves the way for white employees to strike in protest over blatant discrimination against loyal Sasol employees,”

    Enough is enough is the clear message from Solidarity members at Sasol in Secunda as the Sasol Inzalo and Khanyisa schemes controversy continues to plague workers at Sasol South Africa. Sasol announced at the end of last year that its previous employee empowerment scheme, Inzalo, will be replaced by a new empowerment scheme, Khanyisa. However, this employee-share transaction does not make provision for white employees at all, according to the trade union, Solidarity.
    The following is a quote from the website https://www.sasolkhanyisa.com.
    “Transformation in the form of share ownership in Sasol South Africa by previously disadvantaged groups, is an important legal, business and ethical imperative for Sasol. As a responsible corporate citizen, it is our ethical duty to take decisive action to contribute meaningfully towards redressing the injustices of our country’s past.
    We believe that Sasol Khanyisa and our other B-BBEE initiatives will deliver long-term value and sustainable ownership of Sasol by Black South Africans. We look forward to accelerating Sasol’s empowerment journey, as we seek to realise our transformation vision as a company proudly rooted in our South African heritage.”
    These are quoted as benefits of Sasol Khanyisa. It is this focus on black membership and the exclusion of white members that moved Solidarity to oppose the scheme.
    Trade union Solidarity and Sasol could not reach an agreement about Khanyisa, Sasol’s controversial empowerment scheme, at a mediation session held at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on June 14, 2018. The CCMA has consequently issued a certificate to Solidarity in terms of which its members may lawfully go on strike.
    “This unique certificate paves the way for white employees to strike in protest over blatant discrimination against loyal Sasol employees,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said after the meeting.
    Solidarity commenced with the member’s meetings on August 21.
    According to Solidarity Deputy General Secretary Deon Reyneke, Sasol also said through its Chief Executive Stephen Cornell that it would not change or amend its inclusion measures with regard to Khanyisa, despite the fact that the CCMA agreed with the trade union in its dispute with the employer regarding its blatant exclusion on the basis of race.
    “What Cornell is really telling his white employees is that the company does not regard them as worthy enough, and in reality, he is challenging those employees to exercise their full rights,” Reyneke warned.
    According to Reyneke, a system that divides ordinary employees according to race is a recipe for racial tension. Such tension is already palpable at Sasol. “Solidarity members are not going to let it happen that they are being excluded simply because of their race. It would, however, appear as if Mr Cornell is not taking that into account, and that he considers it to be just to exclude someone simply because of the colour of his skin, even though he might have been a faithful Sasol employee for the past 35 years,” Reyneke said.
    A total of 83% of Solidarity’s members at Sasol in Secunda voted in favour of a strike in reaction to the company’s exclusion of white employees from an employee share ownership plan. On Monday 27 August Solidarity members at the Sasolburg plants had the opportunity to exercise their strike vote. The outcome was not available at the time of writing this article.
    It will be the first time in South African history that white employees would go on strike because of exclusion based on race. In addition to the strike, Solidarity is also planning a national protest which people from all over the country can join.
    According to Solidarity Chief Executive Dr Dirk Hermann, the Sasol issue is a case study on the sense of exclusion white people are experiencing in general.
    “We are going to launch a massive campaign by way of which people will be able to show their support to the Sasol employees. A special page has been created on www.solidarity.co.za where people can support those workers.
    Support for the strike has been overwhelming, which is indicative of the levels of frustration that are prevailing among our members. Sasol has simply gone too far. The rule that applies to employee share ownership plans at other companies, especially in the mining industry, is that it includes all employees, regardless of race. The underlying message that we are getting from our members’ response is that enough is enough!” Hermann said.
    Sasol has announced an empowerment scheme, known as Khanyisa, in terms of which its black employees will get shares worth R500 000. Khanyisa succeeds the Inzalo Scheme, which failed financially. Inzalo did include white employees though.
    “In practice, this means that a white Sasol employee with 30 years’ service at Sasol won’t receive any benefit, but an employee that has been in Sasol’s employ for three months will receive R500 000. Employees doing the same job will receive different benefits. This decision by Sasol will divide employees into racial camps and increase racial tension,” Hermann said.
    The draft mining charter recently published for comment in the Government Gazette makes it clear that an employee share ownership plan should be inclusive and may not divide workers on the basis of race. The charter only makes provision for workers that already receive compensation by means of a share scheme. Race is not a criterion.
    “Sasol’s scheme is in direct conflict with the mining charter and the practice in the industry. This scheme is an inflexible scheme only aimed at scoring B-BBEE points. It is not about empowerment of the workers; it is about the commercial value of a scorecard,” Hermann said.
    Solidarity also differs from Sasol on its handling of the previous scheme, Inzalo, and the exclusion of pensioners from further benefits in terms of the scheme

    Members vote to strike