President Jacob Zuma says unions in the mining sector should use their rights responsibly and put the country first by protecting the economy and safeguarding jobs.
Speaking at the May Day rally at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Thursday, the President said unscrupulous bargaining tactics, which are not within the confines of the law and characterised by violence and intimidation, reversed the gains made after the advent of democracy.
Mines in the platinum belt in the North West are currently faced with productivity losses due to a three-month strike over wages.
The President used the Workers' Day celebrations to call on union leaders and captains of industry to find common ground to end the strike.
He said while democracy had given unions and workers several rights - including the rights to fair labour practice, forming and joining a union and collective bargaining, amongst others - he said these rights did not come cheap. "Workers must use these rights constructively to better their lives and determine their destiny."
The President also called on the private sector not to exploit labour, but to remunerate workers adequately.
"We call on the business sector to respect the rights of workers and pay them proper wages in line with the labour framework," he said.
Government would continue to advance the fight for a national minimum wage.