Union rejects SAB empowerment deal

The Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) on Wednesday rejected the content of SAB’s black economic empowerment deal.

While the transaction had the potential to be truly broad-based in volume, in that about 50 000 retailers of SAB beer and soft drinks products and 9 500 SAB employees would benefit, in value terms it was disappointing, Fawu said in a statement.

It felt the employee share stake portion of the transaction would “perpetuate inequalities within SAB and within society”.

Senior black managers, who on average earned R70 000 a month, would get about nine times more units for every unit held by an employee earning R7 000 a month with 10 years’ service.

“In other words, a R7 000-earning employee will get a unit of R84 000 [annual gross salary] and an additional R21 000 [25% of his salary if he has 10 years of service] worth of shares.”

The manager would get R840 000 worth of shares, but nothing additional for years of service. The net effect would be that a few hundred black managers would be enriched at the expense of the “meaningful mass empowerment” of almost 9 000 employees, reinforcing disparities of asset ownership in society and inequitable distribution of income in SAB.

The union would talk with its members during the festive season about the prospects of protest action against SAB.

In response, SAB said Fawu’s concerns were “misplaced”.

“These consultations have been characterised by frankness and constructive dialogue, reflecting the maturity of the relationship between SAB and Fawu,” a company statement read.

The proposed terms of the transaction had been deliberately designed to be “truly meaningful” and set a new standard for employee empowerment.

“As a result, almost 90% of the share value which has been allocated to employees, with a total face value of R2,9-billion, will go to non-managers. This is one of the unique aspects of the deal, and Fawu’s concerns regarding this matter are therefore misplaced.”

On Tuesday SAB confirmed the details of the empowerment deal, saying the total value of the transaction was now $988-million (R7,3-billion) and that no external bank funding was required.—Sapa


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