‘Get to work or be jailed’

Strik­ing mor­tu­ary work­ers ex­pected to re­turn to work af­ter Health’s ul­ti­ma­tum

The Witness - - NEWS - SA­BELO NSELE

GET back to work or go to jail.

That’s the ul­ti­ma­tum to strik­ing mor­tu­ary work­ers from the KZN De­part­ment of Health.

The demon­stra­tions at the Fort Napier Medico-Le­gal Mor­tu­ary spread to an­other Mid­lands mor­tu­ary yes­ter­day.

The de­part­ment told the work­ers, who have been on a go-slow for weeks, to re­turn to work or face up to 30 days in jail for con­tempt of court.

Yes­ter­day, mem­bers of the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union held a demon­stra­tion at the gov­ern­ment mor­tu­ary in How­ick where they com­plained about poor work­ing con­di­tions.

The work­ers, who sang and danced while po­lice vans were load­ing up bod­ies that had piled up, com­plained about air con­di­tion­ers which they said had bro­ken in 2013.

They said their pleas for the de­part­ment to fix the air con­di­tion­ers had been ig­nored since then.

While the de­part­ment said it was still gath­er­ing facts on the How­ick demon­stra­tion and promised to re­spond later, they said work­ers at Fort Napier had un­til yes­ter­day to re­turn to work.

MEC Si­bongiseni Dhlomo said the ul­ti­ma­tum had been is­sued af­ter nu­mer­ous failed at­tempts to per­suade the work­ers to aban­don the go slow.

“The de­part­ment first is­sued an ul­ti­ma­tum which was fol­lowed by an in­terim or­der granted by the court to try and in­ter­dict the work­ers from par­tic­i­pat­ing in an il­le­gal strike.

“When not much re­sponse re­sulted from

the in­terim or­der, an­other ap­pli­ca­tion for be­ing in con­tempt of court was filed by the de­part­ment. All this ac­tion hap­pened si­mul­ta­ne­ously

with the roll out of con­tin­gency plans to keep ser­vices run­ning amid chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances that were tak­ing a toll on many

griev­ing fam­i­lies.”

Dhlomo said on Tues­day the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg high court had granted the fi­nal or­der to in­ter­dict work­ers from em­bark­ing on a wild cat strike and se­condly, granted a sec­ond or­der for the work­ers be­ing in con­tempt of court.

“How­ever, the labour union Ne­hawu, which also had a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in court, pleaded for the im­me­di­ate sus­pen­sion of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the court or­der which would have seen ar­rests of all those that are sub­jected to it since yes­ter­day. The labour union then com­mit­ted that work­ers will abide by the or­der.

“If the work­ers fail to re­turn to work and work at op­ti­mum level, the de­part­ment will be left with no op­tion but to re­turn to court to ask the judge to lift the sus­pen­sion of the or­der so that laws of deal­ing with wild cat strikes can be im­ple­mented against em­ploy­ees,” he said.

It was un­clear if the work­ers had re­turned to work at Fort Napier mor­tu­ary yes­ter­day.

At­tempts to get com­ment from Ne­hawu lead­er­ship were un­suc­cess­ful.

PHOTOS: SA­BELO NSELE

Ne­hawu­ mem­bers­ de­mon­strate­ at­ the­ mor­tu­ary­ in­ How­ick­ yes­ter­day­ against­ poor­ work­ing­ con­di­tions.­

A­ po­lice­ van­ gets­ ready­ to­ load­ bod­ies­ atthe­ How­ick­ mor­tu­ary­ while­ Ne­hawumem­bers­ held­ a­ demon­stra­tion.

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