Both business and labour are to blame for the current strife within South Africa's labour relations market, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Friday.
Opening the 18th National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) annual summit in Johannesburg, Oliphant said the rising number of strikes needed to be addressed.
“We allow a situation where there will be a deadlock... then you will go back to the negotiating table after the strike has happened,” the minister said.
“Why are we allowing that to happen?”
While strike action was a form of democratic expression, without a functioning social dialogue the country could not move forward.
“Social dialogue will always be the baby steps we take to be a successful country,” she said.
“Let us work together in solving all the challenges in this country.”
Business Unity SA (Busa) CEO Nomaxabiso Majokweni said if South Africa was to move towards a new trajectory, all social partners needed to unite behind a socio-economic vision.
“The challenge is to implement policies and not just talk about them. We need to move into another gear of action,” she said.
South Africa, like other countries, was still experiencing economic growth below its potential.
“We are a boxing champion using one fist to fight instead of two,” said Majokweni.
“A greater commitment to social dialogue is required.”
This was so growth could be increased, education improved, poverty reduced, and doing what was best for the country as a whole.
Business wanted to work with labour, government, and community representatives to reduce the cost of doing business, strengthen labour market stability, reduce red tape between government departments, and ensure an environment of policy certainty.
On the wave of strikes currently taking place in different sectors, Majokweni said: “It's important for us to get to the bottom of how we got here. How on earth did we get here?”
She urged the different social partners within Nedlac to be responsible in electioneering as next year's national elections approached, so that there was not a negative impact on economic growth. -Sapa