Published: Tue, September 04, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

White workers at Sasol launch 'go-slow' ahead of Thursday strike

White workers at Sasol launch 'go-slow' ahead of Thursday strike

Workers at petroleum giant Sasol are divided over the new share scheme that minority interest union Solidarity considers racist and unfair, while Cosatu's Matthew Parks says the reality is that black women are at the bottom of the income ladder.

Solidarity says it's waiting for a response from management at Sasol.

The action is being reported as the first-ever strike by white employees in South Africa over racial exclusion.

Solidarity has been waging a challenge against racial quotas in the workplace, and lodged a complaint against the policy in 2016 with the UN Human Rights Commission.

The Khanyisa scheme, according to Sasol, was created to benefit 230,000 black shareholders and qualifying employees.

Solidarity has argued that the empowerment scheme - Sasol Khanyisa Phase 2 - is not inclusive.

Hermann said that Solidarity, which represents 6 300 workers at Sasol, is implementing the strike in a "staggered approach" and likened it to a military operation. "If the company makes it inclusive, the majority will still be black, so we see no need to exclude white workers as this is discrimination", Herman said. "And what we are simply saying is workers are workers, therefore, nobody must be excluded".

The petrochemical firm, which has around 26,000 employees at its local operations, said it received notification from the trade union of its intent to strike on Monday and was open to engagement with the union.

Sasol, located in the affluent area of Sandton, is reportedly the world's leading company that converts coal and gas to fuel.

The event comes amid a background of black economic empowerment reforms, now implemented by the country's ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said the union was satisfied with the protest action‚ which began on Monday morning with sit-ins and work-to-rule action‚ where employees do no more than is required by the rules of their contracts.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, which mediates in labour disputes, ruled that Solidarity did not have a legal right to challenge Sasol's scheme in court, but could push its cause through industrial action.

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