The "ticking time bomb" of poverty and inequality has resulted in the widespread violence in the country, Cosatu said on Thursday.
"The shocking levels of poverty and inequality lie at the heart of violent protests we are seeing in both the workplaces and communities," Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said.
"It is creating what until recently we have called a ticking time bomb."
Vavi was delivering Cosatu's national congress's declaration at the end of the four-day event in Midrand.
He said: "In the context of events in the mining industry and growing service delivery protests, we must now talk about 'exploding bombs'."
The declaration detailed some of the resolutions taken by the congress.
Vavi said the congress was embarking on a "programme of action" to drive economic shifts in the country. This included discussion on a national minimum wage.
"We will convene urgent meetings with the government and the ANC, at the highest level, to discuss the development of a new wage policy."