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. Solidarity members at the Sasolburg plants will get the opportunity to exercise their strike vote and 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 score card,” 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.