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Nedlac says 'yes' to strike action over 'exclusionary' Sasol scheme - Solidarity

FIN24 / 31 OCTOBER 2018 - 10.29 / STAFF REPORTER

Trade union Solidarity says the National Economic and Development Council (Nedlac) has approved a strike by all Solidarity members after it again applied for permission to embark on a one-day sympathy strike in protest against a black economic empowerment scheme at Sasol.

Solidarity says the scheme is discriminatory as it excludes whites from an employee share ownership plan, and has therefore impacted on some of its members.

Photo - Mia Slabbert

"After three months, Nedlac has approved an application by Solidarity to go on a lawful strike against the exclusion of white employees from employee share ownership plans," said Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann in a statement on Tuesday. "In terms of the Nedlac decision, all of Solidarity's 180 000 members can now embark on legal strike action against the exclusion of race."

Calling it a "historic decision", Hermann said they were "most frustrated by the way in which the process was drawn out".

Solidarity had previously approached the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg after Nedlac had turned down their initial application. The High Court later set aside Nedlac's refusal to grant Solidarity a Section 77 Notice and the negotiating forum was forced to review its decision.

At issue is Sasol's Khanyisa Phase 2 share ownership plan. The trade union had approached Nedlac as it wanted all its members to down tools in solidarity with those impacted by the scheme.

"It seems like it was a shock to the system that white people dared to strike over racial exclusion and unfair discrimination. Nedlac is supposed to facilitate protest; not to frustrate it. "Through strike action like this we want to challenge companies like Sasol that are professing that it is morally correct to totally exclude people and to do so on the basis of race," he said.

Sasol has previously argued that the Khanyisa Phase 2 share ownership plan is not exclusionary, as boosting share ownership in Sasol South Africa by previously disadvantaged groups was an "important business, social and moral imperative for Sasol".

It has argued that the Khanyisa Phase 2 share scheme is not part of the group's employee remuneration or benefit structures, but was rather crafted to "address the ownership component of the B-BBEE Codes and therefore Sasol Khanyisa primarily focuses on the inclusion of Black employees."

Hermann on Tuesday added that Solidarity had since also approached the Labour Court in Johannesburg to ask for a ruling on whether Sasol's scheme is lawful.

“Following the Nedlac decision we will now revert to our members about a possible strike mandate. A possibility is to let it coincide with the court case. However, we will let our members guide us in this decision,” he said.



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