SASOL: 41,250 +640 (+1.58%)
White unionised workers protest at Sasol plant over black share scheme
(Adds quote on Thursday's strike at fuel plant)
By Siphiwe Sibeko
SASOLBURG, South Africa, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Hundreds of
workers from South Africa's mainly white Solidarity union staged
a brief protest outside Sasol's chemicals plant in
Sasolburg on Wednesday over a share scheme offered exclusively
to black staff.
Solidarity union leaders, who say the scheme is
discriminatory because it excludes white workers, handed over a
memorandum criticising the plan to Sasol's managers at
Sasolburg, cheered on by workers.
The energy company, known for pioneering the conversion of
coal to fuel, manufactures chemicals at the Sasolburg plant
located 100 km (62 miles) south of Johannesburg.
The workers wore orange caps and some of them waved placards
with slogans such as "Shame on you Sasol" and in the Afrikaans
language, "Swart en Wit is Waardig", which means "Black and
White are worthy".
Some barbecued meat for their colleagues during the lunch
time protest, which lasted for about an hour.
"What this scheme does, is to divide workers simply on the
basis of race," Dirk Hermann, chief executive of the Solidarity
trade union, told the workers. "We want a future of inclusion
and not a future of exclusion."
The union's 6,300 members began a go-slow at the company on
Monday and plan to hold a full strike on Thursday at Sasol's
synthetic fuel plant in Secunda, north-east of Johannesburg.
"We expect thousands of workers to take part in the strike,"
Sasol, which employs around 26,000 people in South Africa,
said it had made contingency plans.
Company spokesman Alex Anderson said the Sasolburg plant is
undergoing a scheduled maintenance shutdown.
"There were no interruptions. Operations continued as
normal," Anderson said.
Sasol has said that it implemented the share scheme in line
with South African laws which require companies to meet quotas
on black ownership, employment and procurement as part of a
drive to reverse decades of exclusion under apartheid.
Meeting the rules makes a company more likely to qualify for
Sasol said in addition to meeting black economic empowerment
rules, the plan was backed by shareholders.
But Solidarity said the scheme was discriminatory and that
it would file a complaint to U.S. regulators. Sasol also
operates in the United States.
Solidarity's Herman has said he hopes Solidarity can put
pressure on Sasol to include other workers.
He said the union cannot take Sasol to court over the scheme
because the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and
Arbitration, South Africa's main authority for mediating labour
disputes, ruled that Solidarity did not have a legal right to
challenge Sasol's scheme in court and could only push its cause
through industrial action.
(Writing by James Macharia)
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