Solidarity accuses Sasol of being 'reckless' as strike drags on

Trade union Solidarity has accused Sasol of compromising safety by making workers who are not properly trained to replace its striking members at the Sasolburg plant.

Hundreds of white Solidarity members are on strike over their exclusion from Sasol's new Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment employee share scheme. 

The union said in a statement Sasol was running the Sasolburg plant with staff who “do not have the necessary clearances and certifications” – causing concern over the safety of employees.

“The decision to keep the plant running with the services of employees who are not duly qualified to do so, is reckless,” said the union.

The strike is now in its third week.

But the petrochemicals giant has refuted Solidarity’s claim, insisting there was no indication that safety had been compromised at Sasolburg.

“Although there were employees who did not arrive yesterday morning at the shift change at our Sasolburg Operations, we activated contingency plans to minimise potential interruption to those particular activities,” said Sasol spokesperson Alex Anderson.

Solidarity also alleged that the strike had affected the firm's scheduled shutdown at Secunda.

“On 11 September, the maintenance schedule at the Secunda plant was already 24 hours behind schedule, on 12 September it was 48 hours behind, and on 13 September already 72 hours behind.”

Sasol has attributed the delays to “technical challenges” which have already been resolved.

The firm’s employee share scheme, known as Sasol Khanyisa, which is the cause of the strike, replaced the now discontinued Sasol Inzalo.

According to Sasol, Khanyisa Phase 1 is available to all permanent Sasol employees, regardless of their race, tenure or seniority if they were participants in Inzalo and were still actively employed as at June 1, 2018. 

Phase 2 however is aimed at black employees. These employees need to be permanently employed as at June 1, 2018, it said.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will on Wednesday begin talks with the parties aimed at ending the impasse.

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