He also called for essential staff in institutions such as hospitals to return to work immediately.
“Our country is facing a huge crisis at this moment,” he said. “Striking essential public service employees and educators are, however unintentionally, causing much anguish and even physical suffering.”
Addressing striking workers, he added: “We understand your plight and your rights to seek justice in terms of fair and adequate salaries and other benefits, especially in the face of corruption by some government officials.
“However, the present strikes are creating suffering – for patients in hospitals, especially those who are seriously ill; for out-patients no longer able to receive much-needed medication; for students who are working hard to prepare for matric examinations and for learners who are trying to develop a culture of education and learning in order to improve their chances in the future.
“These strikes are doing a great deal of harm to our country – and this is something we cannot afford to continue.
“How do we look at our society and say, ‘let not your hearts be troubled,’ when patients needing high levels of care are without proper nursing staff and students are told they must provide for their own education?
“How do we hold the face of God, who is the God of justice, before all who are suffering now?
“We urge all essential service staff to return to your positions immediately. At the same time, we urge government ministers and to all others involved to negotiate an urgent resolution to this crippling action.”