ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Oupa Mokoena.

Johannesburg - Society needs to debate solutions to strikes that last too long, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.

“Such a debate must not be seen as an attack on workers' rights and an affront on the right to strike but rather an important step towards mitigating the negative effects of prolonged strikes on workers and the economy,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.

“I know the impact a long strike has on workers... and the economy.”

Mantashe was a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) shopsteward in the '70s and had been part of a strike which lasted 22 days.

“A strike is a death penalty for many workers.”

There were nearly always job losses.

The country just came out of a five-month strike on the platinum belt in the North West and a four-week strike in the metals and engineering sector.

The secretary general was briefing media after an African National Congress national working committee meeting that was held on Monday.

The governing party welcomed the agreement reached in the metal and engineering sector.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA and Solidarity accepted a 10 percent wage offer from employers. - Sapa