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'Wildcat strikes wrecking the economy'

The President says instability in the labour sector will lead to job losses and exacerbate unemployment.

FILE: Marikana miners during wildcat strikes in August 2012. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday warned that labour strikes will run the economy into serious problems and further extend poverty.

Zuma was addressing traditional leaders in Parliament when he spoke out against wildcat strikes particularly in the mining sector.

He said that workers have a right to demand better pay and working conditions, but said this should not be done in a way which threatens to wreck the economy.

The President told members of the National House of Traditional Leaders that the task of leadership requires that a line be drawn between anarchy and constructive engagement.

Zuma said there's something wrong if the demand for higher wages leads to the kind of conflict that erupted at Marikana where 34 miners were shot and killed during mass industrial action at the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday urged action over continuing labour tensions in the mining sector.

He said unless problems are resolved, South Africa will face loss in investor confidence and companies will be forced to close down.

The minister added further job losses could take place if the unrest continues.

Gordhan was delivering his budget speech vote in Parliament, Cape Town.

"The present uncertainty in the labour relations environment in mining and other sectors requires concerted action by organised labour, business, civic leaders and government. There is no room for complacency here.

"We are all in this together. If we do not resolve our labour challenges, we will be losers. We will see deteriorating confidence, job losses and business failures."

Gordhan said finding a fair solution would encourage investment, put more people to work and allow for better living conditions.