Private sector vows to set up more black economic empowerment schemes
Share this article:
JOHANNESBURG - PRIVATE sector companies on Friday pledged to inject more money into the creation of worker representation structures as the government pushes for a change to legislation.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) Ebrahim Patel said the government wanted more representation of shop floor workers at the highest structures of industry.
Over the recent past, the government has begun to prioritise empowerment schemes that provide workers with equity in the companies that they work for.
Patel said the government, business and labour were working on a set of amendments to the Companies Act to open up the opportunity for greater levels of worker representation on the boards of large companies.
“Broad-based transformation is about bringing key wealth-creators in, not only as wage earners, but also as owners of capital, shifting from an adversarial approach on the shopfloor,” he said. “Through all of this work we are laying the grounds for deeper inclusion and strategic alignment between shareholders, management and workers. “But ownership is not enough. The new-generation shareholding arrangement provides for worker representatives on the boards of their companies.”
Patel announced new guidelines which will be published on the use of worker-ownership and other broadbased ownership schemes so that evergreen structures that provide longevity in their benefit for workers may also be recognised.
He said more than 150 000 workers were now owners of the companies they worked for, and more worker ownership provisions were being put in place by companies themselves.
A number of companies have implemented or have agreed to implement worker ownership structures, including Coca-Cola Beverage SA, Pepsico SA, ABInbev SA, Astron Energy, Vodacom, Sasol, and Kumba.
Coca-Cola has worked with the DTIC on its worker scheme, which will provide its nearly 8 000 workers with a direct ownership stake in the company. The stake will be equal to 15 percent of the equity, and representation on the board of the company through two worker appointed trustees.
Pepsico chief executive Tertius Carstens announced that the company would make available an unencumbered R1.66 billion by September this year to a workers’ trust.
Carstens said the trust would, over a period, fund the acquisition of shares by workers in the company of up to 13 percent of the firm. “We truly believe that employee-owners, over and above the financial contribution that they stand to receive as well as transformational impact thereof, help to foster a culture of stewardship and strategic alignment,” Carstens said.
Astron Energy chief executive Jonathan Molapo announced that the company had earlier in the week completed the transfer of shares which would result in their 1 100 workers now owning 5 percent of the company.
“The rules are very simple. Basically, the dividends are paid based on company performance, which is normal. All the employees qualify, they must be there for at least one year and must be employed by us by the time we pay the dividends,” Molapo said.