Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Violence during strikes is “counterproductive” and must be dealt with, ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete said on Tuesday.

“When violence erupts it's us who suffer, so its just very counterproductive and I think its a matter that needs all of us to talk about,” she said at a media briefing at Luthuli House.

“How are we going to deal with this thing, continue to protect the right to strike but ensure that it doesn't have to be violent?”

Mbete was responding to questions about the strikes underway in various sectors. She was speaking as engineering, metal and chemical workers were marching in various parts of the country over better wages and working conditions.

Last week, the strike in the engineering and metals sector turned violent, with reports of intimidation and one reported death so far.

Each year, strike season in South Africa is littered by reports of intimidation, violence, the trashing of streets and destruction of property.

“I consistently see members of trade unions express the fact that it's not the members of the various trade unions that cause the violence.

“I think we've got to find the solution.

“I mean we fought for the right to strike for workers, you know, we made sure that it is in the Constitution but the last thing we thought was that the strikes would come with violence.”

A worker died, six were injured, and nine arrested during country-wide strikes last week. They were allegedly burning tyres and throwing stones at passing motorists. - Sapa