Strike over but back­log in post-mortems

MEC re­lieved, but mor­tu­ary as­sis­tants not en­tirely happy


GAUT­ENG is hop­ing to clear a back­log of 172 bod­ies at its mor­tu­ar­ies fol­low­ing the end of a strike by pathol­ogy as­sis­tants that caused de­lays in buri­als for many fam­i­lies.

Health MEC Gwen Ramok­gopa yes­ter­day an­nounced the end of the four-week stand-off that had seen foren­sic pathol­ogy as­sis­tants refuse to as­sist with post-mortems.

The strike re­sulted in big de­lays at state mor­tu­ar­ies. There are 20 bod­ies at Rood­e­poort, 80 in Joburg and 72 in Ger­mis­ton.

Said Ramok­gopa: “With the of­fi­cers back at work, we are con­fi­dent that over a pe­riod of three days these back­logs will have been dealt with.”

But the MEC’s an­nounce­ment was met half-heart­edly by some of the work­ers who have been on strike.

A foren­sic pathol­ogy as­sis­tant, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, told The Star that work­ers were un­happy with the man­ner in which their griev­ances were be­ing dealt with.

“The way the health MEC re­solved this is­sue is not ac­cord­ing to the way we were ex­pect­ing them to deal with our griev­ances.”

The as­sis­tant claimed that they have re­turned to work only be­cause they have been threat­ened.

“They sent out let­ters to us, saying they will be dis­miss­ing us if we don’t go back to work.

“We are back at work, but we have a lot of bod­ies that need to be at­tended to.

“This (Thurs­day) af­ter­noon when I knocked off we had per­formed post-mortems on about 70 bod­ies.”

An­other of­fi­cer, who too re­quested to re­main anony­mous, said he was not happy with the MEC’s an­nounce­ment be­cause her of­fice did not deal with the is­sue head-on.

He fur­ther ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment with his union.

“The union stood us up, they de­cided for us and didn’t ask what we thought about it,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers Union na­tional spokesper­son Khaya Xaba, they were due to hold a me­dia brief­ing to­day.

Ramok­gopa said she wished to meet with all the par­ties that were in­volved in the mor­tu­ary strike to iron out any re­main­ing is­sues.

She added that she plans to meet with the man­agers of the fa­cil­i­ties, Depart­ment of Health man­agers as well as the foren­sic pathol­ogy of­fi­cers in the next 10 days.

The MEC was vis­i­bly re­lieved that the strike was now over and that all the staff had re­turned to work.

“We are pleased to an­nounce that 100% of our foren­sic pathol­ogy of­fi­cers had re­turned to their work sta­tions yes­ter­day morn­ing she said in a state­ment.

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