Solidarity 'disappointed' after meeting with Discovery over empowerment shares

Solidarity members at a march.
Solidarity members at a march.

Trade Union Solidarity says Discovery has rejected its plea to reconsider its 10% share allocation to black people in the new bank launched by the health and financial services giant this month.

Solidarity said it met with Discovery CEO Adrian Gore on Monday to raise its concerns about the "racially exclusive scheme". 

Gore announced during the launch of Discovery Bank that 10% of the company’s innovative tech-led bank would be owned by black depositors, a move welcomed by industry bodies.

"We requested a meeting with Discovery following a huge outcry from our members over the scheme.

"Unfortunately, Discovery has insisted that it would maintain the scheme," said Connie Mulder, head of Solidarity Research Institute.

"We are disappointed, but can't say it was unexpected."

The union said it urged Discovery to reconsider its position on the share scheme and adopt an inclusive metric which would not discriminate against people based on the colour of their skin.

The union, whose members are largely white, said it would not prevent its white members who are already Discovery clients from leaving the company in protest against the scheme.

It said it had launched an online petition against the scheme.

"South Africa already has enough similar scheme which are exclusively for black people… we can’t let this happen," said Mulder.

Mulder stated that the union would continue engaging with Discovery on the matter.

It's not the first time that Solidarity has locked horns with a large corporate over empowerment shares.

Solidarity previously embarked on a strike at Sasol over its Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment share scheme known as Sasol Khanyisa phase 2. 

Sasol has maintained that its system was not exclusionary, describing it as an "important business, social and moral imperative" for the company, boosting share ownership in Sasol South Africa by previously disadvantaged groups.

Solidarity has also taken legal steps against the Yes4Youth programme, which is aimed at equipping unemployed youths with skills and support.

"It is astonishing that government and the companies that associate themselves with the programme believe it is acceptable to discriminate against the poor in society, simply because the colour of their skin is not right," Paul Maritz, the coordinator of Solidarity Youth, said in a statement.

Solidarity said it would take legal action on behalf of one of its members, Danie van der Merwe, who is unemployed and who is excluded from this programme because of his skin colour.

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
What potential restrictions on unvaccinated South Africans may make the biggest difference to public health, the economy?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Limited access to restaurants and bars
9% - 44 votes
Limited access to shopping centres
17% - 85 votes
Limited access to live events, including sport matches and festivals
28% - 140 votes
Workplace vaccine mandates
46% - 230 votes