Sasol’s reorganisation puts 1,000 jobs at risk

January 13, 2014 | Employment

Sasol's headquarters in Rosebank, Johannesburg

Sasol’s headquarters in Rosebank, Johannesburg

Johannesburg – South Africa Petrochemicals group Sasol may cut as many as 1,000 jobs as the world’s largest producer of petroleum from coal prepares a reorganisation, the Solidarity union said last week.

“They are reducing their costs,” Marius Croucamp, a spokesman for Solidarity at the Johannesburg-based company, said. Talks with the union started in late November after Sasol and Boston-based management consultancy Bain & Company developed proposals to reduce the company’s size, he said.

Sasol plans to save R3billion from cost cuts within the next two to three years, the company said in a September 9 presentation. It has forecast “strong” earnings growth for the financial year ending June because of higher oil and chemicals prices and favourable foreign currency movements.

Sasol, which advanced 42% in Johannesburg trading last year, was little changed at R514.50 on Friday afternoon, valuing the company at about $31bn. The company employs more than 35,000 people in 37 countries.

“Due to the progress made in designing the new operating model, we are contemplating potential people impacts as a result of this programme,” Sasol spokesman Alex Anderson said in response to questions. “We anticipate that for at least the next six months the impacts will be limited to the senior management structures in the organisation.”

The initiative, called Project Phoenix, could result in about 1,000 job losses, Mr Croucamp said. “Our concern is with job cuts, extended families are affected and there’s no alternative for them to go to in the job market.”

Sasol’s board on November 1 approved an executive committee to “align the group’s top management with our new operating platform, effective 1 July 2014,” Mr Anderson said. “Because it’s unfolding, we don’t know what the final structure is going to look like,” he said.