August 28, 2018 / 3:46 PM / in 2 months

UPDATE 2-South Africa's Solidarity union to strike at Sasol over black staff scheme

(Adds Sasol comment)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 28 (Reuters) - South Africa’s mainly white Solidarity union said on Tuesday it had threatened Sasol with a strike over a share ownership scheme offered exclusively for black staff unless its workers were also included or received a similar offer.

The energy giant has sold 25 percent of its local operations to qualifying black employees, a foundation and the black public in a 21 billion rand ($1.5 billion) deal that has been vendor-financed by the company.

The world leader in technology to convert coal and gas to fuel has defended the scheme, saying it was not a benefit but a mechanism designed to meet South Africa’s rules on black economic empowerment.

Under the rules, South African companies are required to meet quotas on black ownership, employment and procurement as part of a drive to reverse decades of exclusion under apartheid.

The union said the scheme excluded white staff and foreign nationals, and its workers should be included or offered other similar arrangements.

It said a majority of its members had voted to serve a 48-hour strike notice but added that did not necessarily mean that it would hold the industrial action after 48 hours.

“This type of crude racial exclusion cannot be tolerated any longer. These white workers are also valuable,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said in a statement.

Sasol said in a statement that the purpose of the scheme, called Sasol Khanyisa, was meant to create a “meaningful financial benefit for approximately 230,000 black shareholders, including qualifying black employees.”

“Notwithstanding the absence of specific dates of the planned strike action, Sasol has activated contingency measures to minimise potential disruption to our operations,” it said.

Shares in Sasol were little changed at 556.73 rand as of 1408 GMT.

$1 = 14.6363 rand Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng Editing by James Macharia and Edmund Blair

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