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.