CCMA’s first-time ruling that whites may strike because of race

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CCMA

Trade union Solidarity achieved a huge victory in its dispute at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) against Sasol on white employees’ exclusion from Sasol’s new empowerment scheme, Khanyisa. “In this historic finding, the CCMA found that employees are permitted to strike because of the exclusion based on race from the Sasol employee share scheme,” Deon Reyneke, Deputy General Secretary at Solidarity, said.

This followed after Sasol announced at the end of last year that its existing employee empowerment scheme, Inzalo, which came to an end on 18 May 2018, would be replaced by a new empowerment scheme, Khanyisa. However, this employee share transaction does not make provision for white employees at all.

According to Reyneke, the new scheme consists of two phases, the second phase of which only applies to workers of the designated group. “This scheme makes a clear distinction between two categories of employees, which in our opinion is unfair. We have received formal feedback from Sasol, stating that it would be contrary to true and meaningful transformation should white people also share in Khanyisa,” Reyneke said.

Reyneke said that in its dispute at the CCMA the trade union argued that white employees can go on strike to obtain similar benefits. Reyneke also said that since January this year, Sasol had been trying to invalidate the trade union as well as its members’ grievances by means of technical arguments. “Sasol has contended that white employees may not go on strike as the matter concerned a dispute of rights and that the courts are thus the appropriate forum to deal with the dispute,” Reyneke said.

However, in the light of all the arguments, the Commissioner found that Solidarity’s dispute should be classified as a matter of common interest which should therefore be further investigated by the CCMA. “Sasol tried to come up with legal gymnastics in an attempt to gain time. However, this win paves the way for us as far as the dispute itself is concerned,” Reyneke furthermore indicated.

“We hope Sasol will get new insights during the upcoming mediation process, and that it will take white workers’ grievances to heart so a settlement that will include all employees can be reached,” Reyneke concluded.

Deon Reyneke
Deputy General Secretary: Solidarity