PRETORIA – Health unions and the Gauteng government have reached a deal to end the ongoing strike by mortuary workers.
The public health bargaining council said the agreement was in principle for now.
Unions and the health department have put their heads together to try and end the strike in a bid to relieve the backlog at the province’s state mortuaries.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said it would only sign once workers had agreed to all the terms.
Mortuary staff downed tools two weeks ago, demanding better pay and recognition for out-of-scope work.
They insist they were not on strike, but are simply refusing to do work they are not contracted to do, like dissecting bodies.
Union leaders said cleaners, drivers and other untrained staff have been conducting post-mortems for years now.
The move resulted in bodies piling up, leaving bereaved families frustrated, and unable to bury their loved ones.
Public Health Bargaining Council’s Phumelelo Sibiya said that workers “don’t want to continue doing it but they want the employer to recognise the fact that they are performing those particular functions.”
Health Bargaining Council Chairperson Mahmood Fadal said, “The parties indicated by Friday they would conclude that process and once they sign, as you’ve indicated that unions were not in strike but working out of scope so it’s not going be complicated.”
Nehawu’s Thhegofatso Moralo said, “The employer will access the backlog and then if there’s a need for our members to perform overtime to deal with backlog that will be arranged with the employees and it will be an authorised overtime if employer feels that they need extra time to do that.”
The deal, if accepted by union members, will affect forensic pathology officers countrywide.