October 25, 2018 / 2:45 PM / a year ago

Mainly white South African union protests over Sasol's black share plan

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Hundreds of members of South Africa’s mainly white Solidarity union marched to the offices of petrochemicals Sasol (SOLJ.J) in Johannesburg on Thursday to protest against a share scheme that was offered exclusively to black staff.

Solidarity’s chief executive Dirk Hermann said the union had filed an unfair racial discrimination case at the labour court in an attempt to get white workers included in the scheme.

During the march, Solidarity leaders delivered a memorandum to both Sasol and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange complaining about being excluded from the share plan.

“If South Africa accepts racial exclusion as normal it’s a bad day for South African democracy,” Hermann told union members holding placards with slogans written in Afrikaans saying “my work also has worth” and “stop racial segregation”.

Sasol, which is known for pioneering the conversion of coal to fuel, said it was studying the memorandum and could not immediately comment on the court case.

“We value our relationship with Solidarity and support the constitutional right of all workers to demonstrate according to the appropriate legal parameters,” Sasol said in an emailed response to questions.

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. Meeting the rules makes a company more likely to qualify for government tenders.

Solidarity, which has around 6,300 members, last month held a strike at Sasol’s synthetic fuel plant in Secunda, northeast of Johannesburg, and embarked on a go-slow at Sasol’s facilities.

Editing by Joe Brock

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