The Gauteng Health Department announced last week that military staff would be used at the ten Gauteng state mortuaries hit by strike action, but only 10 military medics are assisting, which is too few to cut the backlog of more than 200 bodies.
Pathologists are struggling to keep the backlog of autopsies from growing as about 40 new bodies come in every day.
The Department’s efforts to ameliorate the effects of the strike and to end it have been feeble.
Again, this shows that the ANC is too weak to act against union allies.
There is no doubt that this is an illegal strike rather than a “go slow” or “work-to-rule” as the job description of forensic pathologist officers explicitly details that they assist with autopsies under direction of pathologists, which is what has happened now for many years.
They have genuine grievances about pay and working conditions, but the Department has already conceded on this and other issues can be sorted out through the bargaining chamber.
It is also unclear who represents the 180 striking workers as both NEHAWU and Hospersa have issued statements on their behalf. I visited the Hillbrow Mortuary yesterday and some workers said they were not represented by any union.
A court order against the strike is long overdue to ensure that families get the bodies of their loved ones for burial as soon as possible.