Thursday 11 December between 10:00 and 12:00, SASOL Ex-Workers will hold a picket outside the Rosebank offices of SASOL, to demand a meeting with SASOL’s Senior Management that was promised them in a dialogue with officials from the company’s Public Affairs Department on 20 October 2014. The promised meeting has not yet taken place, and the ex-workers believe that SASOL is deliberately stalling.
The ex-workers were all dismissed in 1987 after a legal peaceful strike was terminated after SASOL management called in the police and their own units trained to suppress union activity at the plant. In the course of the strike, 77 workers were killed (more than twice the number of miners killed by police at Marikana on 16 August 2012). No commission of inquiry was ever held because these events were hidden from the public because Sasol was a National Key Point under apartheid. The surviving workers and family members made a submission to the TRC, received an acknowledgment of receipt, and were given a “case number.” And that was the end of the story.
The meeting with Sasol office-bearers on 20 October requested the ex-workers to suspend their picket planned for African Human Rights Day, 21 October 2014. The ex-workers agreed because SASOL stated that it was now committed to convening an urgent meeting with the ex-workers, and with Khulumani Support Group, which the ex-workers had joined on the advice of the South African Council of Churches. SASOL has a shameful track record of repeatedly failing to honour its undertakings to this group. With every delay created by SASOL, more evidence has emerged of SASOL’s role in aiding and abetting the perpetration of gross violations of human rights. SASOL’s Public Affairs Department acknowledged that the company had kept the lives of its ex-workers on hold for the past 27 years. The ex-workers had been unable to educate their children or to take their own lives forward. None of the ex-workers has received the pay-out of their accumulated benefits that accrued from deductions taken from their salaries over many years. Beyond the injustice of denying the workers these benefits for the past 27 years, the company has failed to come through on any efforts to provide them with a future through funding development plans and projects submitted to SASOL over the past 7 years.
This year, SASOL’s CSI Department requested a funding application for a project with the widows of SASOL’s ex-workers who lost their lives in the violent repression of the 1987 strike, who are locally resident in Sasolburg. . The requested application was duly delivered, and promises made by SASOL were regularly followed up by Khulumani. The funds for the solicited project never eventualised. Schemes created by SASOL to benefit local ‘stakeholders’ have ignored the ex-workers as important stakeholders. Applications made by SASOL’s organised ex-workers for shareholding opportunities in the INZALO scheme, and in other programmes, have been repeatedly rejected.
It is time to expose the bad faith of SASOL and its failure for 27 years to take responsibility for addressing the devastation caused to their skilled artisans who as workers were unreasonably and recklessly dismissed, in the view of the Labour Court. There is no future without justice!
Contact numbers: Dr Marjorie Jobson, National Director, Khulumani Support Group: 082 28 0223
Mr Lenning Makhiwane, Chairperson, SASOL Ex-Workers’ Group: 083 954 6417