Gauteng mortuary strike drags on despite concessions

The illegal strike by forensic assistants in the 10 Gauteng state mortuaries has dragged on for three weeks despite concessions made to meet the demands of the workers.

Pathologists are doing the best they can with 10 military medics and 8 volunteers from the National Association of Funeral Directors assisting them, but the backlog is still about 200 bodies.

Autopsies are taking more than 7 days instead of one day, to the great distress of families who have to delay funerals.

Unions representing the workers are being unreasonable and cruel in continuing this illegal strike in an essential service.

Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has mishandled the strike from the start by not getting a court order against it.

She is bumbling from one crisis to another, including the disgraceful non-payment of subsidies to 159 NGOs looking after mental health and other patients.

I welcome the intervention by Premier David Makhura to promise payments to mental health NGOs by the end of this week.

I agree with his statement that the health department needs a “big shake-up” and I hope that the cabinet committee he has set up to assist Health MEC Ramokgopa is successful.

They must get it right this time as many previous efforts to “turn-around” the department have failed.

Makhura’s intervention is urgently needed to resolve the mortuary strike as well.