Thousands of Lonmin miners in Marikana turned violent during their six week-long strike over wages. (Sebabatso Mosamo/City Press)
Cape Town - Workers must use existing channels and not violence to achieve their goals, acting Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Richard Baloyi said on Thursday.
He said cabinet would continue to support tough action against workers who resorted to violence during labour disputes.
"When you allow violence to become the order of the day, who will survive?... It's actually an act of self-destruction," Baloyi told reporters after their week's regular cabinet meeting.
Baloyi said when workers decided to operate outside the regulated environment of collective bargaining they became "loose".
"The end result was wildcat strikes, the end result was the violence and intimidation that you see," he said.
Baloyi said the no-nonsense stance taken against striking miners would apply to the truck drivers' strike as well.
"It does not matter whether strikers who become violent and damage property are in the transport sector or in the mining sector," said Baloyi.
Baloyi said the destruction of property which accompanied strikes was "polluting" workers' democratic right to organise.
He said government would not stop at anything when it came to taking action against those who instigated violence.
But he stopped short of saying government would take unions to court for damage caused during industrial action.
"We are not then declaring war (on unions), only for those who break the law."
Baloyi said cabinet supported workers who negotiated through unions, which should be given the space to survive.
"We have a labour-friendly environment that recognised workers who organised and form[ed] unions... those who take their own routes and decide to be violent, intimidate people, even kill people... that won't be tolerated."
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