Sasol's headquarters in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Sasol's headquarters in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

The Solidarity trade union will begin a strike at Sasol on Monday over a share ownership scheme offered exclusively to black staff.

Solidarity said at the weekend that it had planned for three weeks of industrial action. It said its 6,300 members were highly trained employees of "major strategic importance" to the petrochemicals firm.

"We intend to switch off a different section of Sasol each day by means of well-laid and strategic plans," the union said.

Sasol, a world leader in the technology that converts coal and gas to fuel, said last year it would raise its black ownership levels in Sasol SA to at least 25% in a R21bn deal.

Sasol recently introduced a new 10-year staff share scheme, Khanyisa phase 2, which excludes white workers and foreign nationals.

According to Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann, in practice 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.

"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," the union said in its statement.

"A complete strike begins 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."

Solidarity originally declared a dispute against Sasol in January 2018, and after two rounds of CCMA discussions the CCMA issued a certificate of nonresolution in May 2018.

Last Tuesday Sasol said it had received notification from Solidarity of its intent to strike and had activated contingency measures to minimise potential disruption to it operations.

"A certificate of nonresolution does not imply that Solidarity is correct or that Sasol is wrong, it means that the parties could not find any middle ground, and gives permission to Solidarity to withdraw labour and protest in a safe manner," Sasol said in a press statement.

"We value Solidarity’s relationship with Sasol and will ensure that we keep the lines of communication open between us."

Sasol said Khanyisa intends to create meaningful financial benefits for approximately 230,000 black shareholders and qualifying employees, and to achieve 25% direct and indirect black ownership of Sasol SA.

The company said phase 1 of the programme included all permanent Sasol employees who were participants of Sasol Inzalo and still actively employed on June 1 2018, and they are eligible for R100,000 worth of Sasol ordinary shares, or Sasol BEE ordinary shares, which will vest in 2021.

"Transformation, in the form of share ownership in Sasol SA by previously disadvantaged groups, is an important business, social and moral imperative for Sasol," the company statement said.

"Sasol Khanyisa is not part of Sasol’s employee remuneration or benefit structures. It was specifically designed to address the ownership component of the B-BBEE Codes and therefore Sasol Khanyisa primarily focuses on the inclusion of Black employees."

With Reuters