Mainly White trade union goes on strike in South Africa for ‘racial exclusion’

South Africa’s Solidarity — a mainly white trade union — will today commence a strike at exploration company, Sasol over a share ownership scheme offered exclusively to black staff.

Sasol recently introduced a new 10-year staff share scheme, Khanyisa phase 2, to create meaningful financial benefits for approximately 230,000 black shareholders and qualifying employees in its South African operations to own at least 25 percent in a R21 billion deal ($1.43 billion).

According to Solidarity CEO, Dirk Hermann, “the new scheme implies that a Sasol employee with 30 years’ service at Sasol will receive nothing while someone who has worked at Sasol for only three months will receive shares to the value of R500,000 ($34,000)”, because they are black.

The trade union which negotiates on behalf of its members and defends the civil rights of its workers and members, noted that it plans a 3 weeks of industrial action because its 6,300 members are highly trained employees of “major strategic importance” to the petrochemicals firm.

In January, Solidarity started a dispute with Sasol and after two rounds of discussions, they could not find a middle ground, with a certificate of non-resolution issued in May 2018. According to Sasol, “A certificate of non-resolution does not imply that Solidarity is correct or that Sasol is wrong. It means that the parties could not find any middle ground.”

On August 28, Sasol noted that it had received notification from Solidarity of its intent to strike and had activated contingency measures to minimize potential disruption to its operations. “We value Solidarity’s relationship with Sasol and will ensure that we keep the lines of communication open between us,” Sasol added.

“The strike begins on Monday with several protest actions. It will build up to Wednesday when a national day of support for the Sasol workers will be held,” meanwhile, “A complete strike will begin on Thursday with a mass meeting of the community at the Secunda plant and the Sasol coal mines. The focus will then shift to Sasolburg, and later both industrial plants and the Sasol coal mines will stage joint actions,” Sasol stated.