Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Trade union Solidarity said on Tuesday that it would begin meetings with its members at energy and chemical company Sasol in order to obtain its mandate regarding a possible strike at the company due to alleged exclusion based on race.

This is after Sasol announced at the end of last year that its Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) share scheme, Inzalo, will be replaced by a new empowerment scheme, Khanyisa, which did not make provision for white employees.

The energy company has stood its ground saying that it will not change the prerequisites for inclusion in the scheme despite the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), in a historical ruling earlier this year, giving the trade union permission to strike due to the exclusion based on race in the workplace. 

Deon Reyneke, Solidarity's deputy general secretary, said that Sasol chief executive Stephen Cornell reiterated that it would not change or amend its inclusion measures with regard to Khanyisa.

Reyneke said a system that divides ordinary employees according to race was a recipe for racial tension, and that such tension was already palpable at Sasol.

"What Cornell is really telling his white employees is that the company does not regard them as worthy enough, and in reality he is challenging those employees to exercise their full rights," Reyneke said.

"Solidarity members are not going to let it happen that they are being excluded simply because of their race. It would, however, appear as if Mr Cornell is not taking that into account, and that he considers it to be just to exclude someone simply because of the colour of his skin, even though he might have been a faithful Sasol employee for the past 35 years."

Reyneke said that Solidarity members were not afraid to exercise their lawful rights, thus demonstrating that they are worthy indeed.

- African News Agency (ANA)