Looming shutdown threatened as 5 trade unions hold a sit-in at Gauteng Health

13 March 2018 - 11:22 By Timeslive
"It is very distressing for families to have to wait for the burial of their loved ones because of this illegal strike‚" said Jack Bloom.
Image: 123RF/Fernando Gregory Milan

A sit-in by labour unions over a bonus dispute commenced last night at the Gauteng health department‚ amid concerns over delays in postmortems.

Forensic pathology workers have downed tools. TimesLIVE was informed late last week of a go-slow but the Democratic Alliance's Jack Bloom says they are now on strike.

The Germiston mortuary seems to be worst affected‚ with 65 bodies piling up because of this illegal strike‚ he said.

"According to a memorandum issued on March 8 by Professor Mac Lukhele‚ the Acting Head of the Gauteng Health Department‚ the Forensic Pathology Officers embarked on an unprotected strike on March 7 by not carrying out their dissection and evisceration functions.

They have been given a final warning to resume their normal duties or face disciplinary action as they are in contradiction of an interdict judgment by the Labour Court" that was granted previously‚" Bloom said in a statement.

The workers’ grievances relate to allegedly unfulfilled promises after their strike in June last year.

"It is very distressing for families to have to wait for the burial of their loved ones because of this illegal strike‚" said Bloom.

He cited the case of Naledzani Netshikulwe‚ who contacted him.

Netshikulwe has been desperately trying to get the body of his nephew who died last week on Thursday.

“As a family we need to collect the body‚ do the death certificate and then book the burial sites but we can’t without postmortem results‚” said Netshikulwe.

Bloom called on the department to show resolve in curbing the strike and ensuring that the agreement reached last year concerning worker grievances is properly implemented.

Meanwhile‚ the five trade unions staging a sit-in health are Denosa‚ Nehawu‚ PSA‚ Hospersa and Nupsaw.

The sit-in "followed yet another fruitless meeting with departmental representatives" yesterday afternoon‚ the unions said.

They are demanding payment of performance bonuses for the 2016 and 2017 financial years. In a statement‚ the unions said Professor Lukhele left the venue at 9pm "to catch some sleep as he was to attend an important early morning meeting today".

"As unions‚ we see this as an insult to workers and a clear sign of disregard of workers' issues as the matter had been on the agenda since 2016.

"The sit-in‚ demanding an urgent audience with MEC‚ is to show the employer that delaying tactics are no longer accepted by hungry workers.

". . . Failure to see a solution to this two-year-old matter unfortunately leave the unions with no option other than embarking on a complete shutdown of services in the department by withdrawing our labour.

"We hope communities will understand that the action to shut down will be our last resort and the only language that government has come to understand‚ unfortunately."