Trade union Solidarity can embark on a protected strike over Sasol's racially exclusive employee-shareholding plan, after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued Solidarity a certificate of non-resolution.
The parties met for a conciliation hearing with the CCMA, Sasol [JSE:SOL] said in a statement on Thursday.
Solidarity had registered a dispute with the CCMA over Sasol's new empowerment scheme, which it said largely excluded white employees.
Last year Sasol’s shareholders approved Sasol Khanyisa, a R21bn B-BBEE scheme. The scheme would place 25% of Sasol’s ownership with black South Africans and would replace Sasol’s previous scheme Sasol Inzalo.
The CCMA subsequently held hearings on the matter on May 9 and May 25. Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann argued that white employees were entitled to go on strike to access equal benefits.
"At the conciliation hearing, Sasol and Solidarity could not reach agreement to settle the dispute. As such, the Commissioner issued a certificate of non-resolution," Sasol's statement read.
The certificate means Solidarity could embark on a protected strike, after giving Sasol 48 hours' notice.
"A certificate of non-resolution does not imply that Solidarity is correct, nor that Sasol is wrong on this dispute.
"The CCMA outcome means that middle ground could not be found on Tier 2 of Sasol Khanyisa employee share ownership plan. It gives permission to Solidarity to withdraw labour and protest in a safe manner."
The parties are to meet on July 4, to determine picketing rules if there should be a strike.
According to Sasol, the scheme is not a company benefit or compensation scheme. The scheme aims to address the B-BBEE codes and focuses on the inclusion of black employees as defined by the codes.
"Sasol Khanyisa, Sasol’s new B-BBEE ownership structure, is one of the key focus areas of the company’s broader transformation strategy.
"Transformation, in the form of share ownership in Sasol South Africa by previously disadvantaged groups, is an important ethical, social and business imperative for Sasol," the company said.
Solidarity believes the certificate to be a "first" as white employees could go on a lawful strike over exclusion based on race. "This unique certificate paves the way for white employees to strike in protest over blatant discrimination against loyal Sasol employees,” Hermann said in a statement.
Solidarity will now work towards obtaining a mandate to go on strike.
Sasol confirmed that it had not yet received notice from Solidarity for a strike.
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