Sasol has activated contingency measures to minimise potential disruptions to its operations following the start of a go-slow by trade union Solidarity on Monday.
Solidarity is unhappy about an employee share scheme which excludes white employees.
Sasol said it received notification from Solidarity of its intent to strike on Monday.
“In this respect‚ we have activated contingency measures to minimise potential disruption to our operations.
“Currently‚ parts of our Secunda and Sasolburg operations are busy with planned maintenance shutdowns‚ and activities in this respect continue as scheduled. Planning for these shutdowns is an ongoing annual process‚” Sasol said in a statement.
It said its operations that were not part of the annual maintenance shutdown were continuing as planned.
“We continue to monitor the situation. Our priority is ensuring that all personnel are engaged to ensure safe and ongoing operations‚” Sasol said.
Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said the union was satisfied with the protest action‚ which began on Monday morning with sit-ins and work-to-rule action‚ where employees do no more than is required by the rules of their contracts.
“This is part of the build-up to the full strike in Secunda on Thursday‚ where we will have a large protest. Everything is according to plan‚” Hermann said.
Hermann said Sasol was busy with the annual maintenance shutdown and its workers knew exactly where to withdraw their labour.
“I cannot see how Sasol can say there is no disruption as there is a shutdown‚” Hermann said.
Hermann said its 6‚300 members were highly trained employees of major strategic importance to Sasol.
“We intend to switch off a different section of Sasol each day by means of well-laid and strategic plans. We have the knowledge and influence to achieve that.”
The African National Congress said it was deeply concerned about the racist overtones of the strike‚ which it said sought to reverse the gains of the country’s democracy.
“Historically‚ Sasol has always had schemes that benefited white employees to the exclusion of their black counterparts.
“One of the fundamental tenets of our democracy is enabling economic participation by black people as part of addressing historical inequalities‚” ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said.
Sasol said participants in Sasol Khanyisa Phase 1 were all permanent employees‚ regardless of race‚ tenure or seniority‚ who were participants of Sasol Inzalo and still employed by Sasol.
It said Phase 2 of Sasol Khanyisa was extended to its black permanent employees (African‚ Indian‚ coloured)‚ as defined by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Code of Good Practice.
Sasol said all black employees who were permanently employed on June 1‚ 2018 had participated in Phase 2 and were eligible for 1‚240 Sasol Khanyisa rights to shares.