He warned that a failure to do so would see unions that were not “progressive” take up the space previously occupied by Congress of SA Trade Union (Cosatu) affiliates.
“How do you balance the trade union movement work and the politics? Can you succeed in maintaining worker union?” he asked at a conference of the SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union in Durban.
Zuma said strikes should be peaceful and not infringe on the rights of those who did not strike.
“We have tasked the labour department to identify measures to strengthen labour relations and social dialogue.”
The collective bargaining process should also be strengthened.
“We are proud of our country’s system of collective bargaining, which is part of our fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic,” he said.
Zuma’s appeal to strengthen collective bargaining processes follows the rise of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which has displaced the Cosatu-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers as the main union at several mines.
Earlier this month, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa called for company-level wage talks and an end to central bargaining forums, as he believed they were flawed.