Johannesburg - There was no need for violence during a strike, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday, as the pay dispute in the metals industry continued.
"While respecting the constitutional and hard-won worker rights, let me emphasise that the government will always act against those who use violence and intimidation to advance their cause," he said at the unveiling of a vehicle assembly plant in Coega, near Port Elizabeth, according to a copy of his speech.
"We condemn all acts of violence that have been reported thus far," he said.
Thousands of workers from the metals and engineering industries began striking on Tuesday last week.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) wants a 15% wage increase and a R1 000 housing allowance in a one-year bargaining agreement.
Scores of people have been arrested for damage to property and public violence linked to the strike.Police commissioner Riah Phiyega's office said on Tuesday that in Gauteng alone 53 people had been arrested on a single day for strike-related offences.
Last week, employer body, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA tabled a three-year wage offer of between
8 - 10% for different levels of workers in the first year.
The National Employers' Association of SA has offered eight percent, subject to an agreement on the reduction of the entry-level wage.
Zuma said the government was facilitating the negotiations through the labour department.