Twenty seven years ago, in October 1987, the managements of Sasol One and of Natref precipitately dismissed 2,400 skilled workers from their plants at Sasolburg when they embarked on a strike for improved wages. The workers had served Sasol One and Natref for periods of between 5 and 35 years. Their wholesale dismissal threatened the operations of the companies at a time that South Africa was reliant on the production of oil from coal at its Sasol One plant.
Management in its refusal to consider the demands of its workers, invoked extreme measures to try to paralyse the strike. It brought in its special ‘labour unrest task force’ of informers trained to intimidate and physically threaten unionised workers. It called in the Internal Stability Unit of the South African Police and it asked government to send in South African Defence Force soldiers to “come and kill the terrorists”. (Mr Jacobs, Sasol One General Manager). It evicted migrant workers from their hostels even before obtaining an eviction order from the Supreme Court, using factually distorted allegations. The violence that was unleashed on the workers resulted in 77 deaths over the ensuing weeks.
In the 27 years since their dismissal, the lives of the ex-workers of Sasol One and of Natref, have been destroyed. None of the workers has received their accumulated benefits. Only one worker has been provided with his service certificate. No workers have been compensated for the harm caused their families including the loss of life of 77 breadwinners, the loss of homes, the falling apart of many marriages, and the loss of the ability to send children to school and to take forward their lives. For 27 years, Sasol One and Natref have refused to acknowledge their responsibility for this destruction.
On 21 October 2014, the ex-workers are picketing the offices of Sasol One from 11:00 to demand:
- Compensation of R120,000.00 for each affected ex-worker;
- The payment of the accumulated benefits of every worker;
- The setting up of a trust fund to support the small enterprise activities of the ex-workers and their families; and
- The commitment of Sasol’s management to a reasonable timeframe to make good on these demands.
Officials from Sasol’s Public Affairs Department have acknowledged the failure of Sasol over the past 27 years to compensate their unfairly dismissed workers and to provide reparations for the huge loss of life for which Sasol’s Management can be held responsible.
JUSTICE FOR THE SASOL ONE & NATREF EX-WORKERS: 27 YEARS IS TOO LONG
For comment, please contact:
- Mr Lenning Makhiwane, Chairperson, Khulumani Ex-Workers’ Committee: 083 954 6417
- Mr Joel Maboshego, Deputy Chairperson, Khulumani Ex-Workers’ Committee: 079 234 5848
- Dr Marjorie Jobson, National Director, Khulumani Support Group: 082 268 0223