South African Labor Union Takes Sasol Race Fight to NYSE

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s Solidarity labor union filed a complaint against Sasol Ltd. with the New York Stock Exchange, alleging the company’s share ownership plan violates a section of the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

Sasol’s plan, known as Khanyisa, proposes allocating shares to black employees, while their white counterparts are barred from participation “solely because of their skin color,” the labor union said in a letter to the NYSE dated Sept. 4. Members of Solidarity are currently on strike in South Africa in protest at the plan.

The South African government has enacted legislation to redress economic inequalities stemming from white-minority rule under apartheid that ended in 1994, including black ownership of companies. Solidarity argues that under the Khanyisa plan “old apartheid divisions are being perpetuated and, indeed, aggravated as the struggle for resources becomes more acute in our country.”

The union notes that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” and asks the exchange to “take appropriate steps to fulfill its mandate to protect sound public policy in terms of” the act.

Sasol has defended the plan, arguing that Khanyisa aims to achieve 25 percent direct and indirect black ownership of its South African operations.

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