The cause of strikes in several sectors of the economy need to be tackled head-on, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said on Friday.

“We have not yet confronted the deep issues in the South African society. We are just papering over cracks and if we don't confront them they are going to explode,” he said in Johannesburg.

Nxesi was speaking at a construction industry transformation summit in Kempton Park.

He said collective bargaining processes had to be reviewed and beefed up.

“It is better to deal with organised workers than to deal with them unorganised,” the minister said, “Because you don't know who to talk to once they explode.”

Nxesi said that not enough had been done to change the lives of people in South Africa.

“We are talking empowerment this and that... but has that changed the lives of our ordinary masses? Our ordinary people?” - Sapa