Workers’ dissatisfaction affects bodies

2017-03-23 06:02
Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo (pictured) had to leave his office in Pietermaritzburg last week and assist with post-mortems in Port Shepstone. Photo: precious gumede

Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo (pictured) had to leave his office in Pietermaritzburg last week and assist with post-mortems in Port Shepstone. Photo: precious gumede

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DUE to the dissatisfaction of employees at Park Rynie and Port Shepstone mortuaries last week, MEC of Health Dr Sibongiseni Dlomo had to personally perform post-mortems on bodies that were left unattended at the Park Rynie morgue as staff had taken sick leave as protest action, or a go slow, because of the department’s failure to respond to working condition concerns they had raised.

The bodies from Park Rynie were transported to Port Shepstone mortuary for procedures to be performed and as a result staff from Port Shesptone also took sick leave refusing to assist with the bodies.

More than 19 bodies awaited post-mortems and all had to be ready by Friday March 10 for release to families for burial.

All the bodies were released with the assistance of SAPS officers and two Port Shepstone staff who did show up.

Allegations suggest that some bodies had deteriorated and families had accept them in such conditions.

A member of a Park Rynie family confirmed that the corpse had started to decompose and the family was not happy about this.

Staff union, Public Allied Workers Union of South Africa’s (Pawusa), provincial co-ordinator Halala Gumede confirmed that the go-slow was held to address staff issues in relation to their irregular working hours.

“The staff also complained that there is no management personnel to see to shift management,” said Gumede.

He said with regards to deteriorating bodies, he could not confirm as this was an allegation and nothing had been reported to them.

On Friday Gumede attended a meeting held by the department in Pietermaritsburg to discuss the issues and to urge the staff to come back to work. “At the meeting on Friday the department head promised that the issues would be resolved and a letter on progress would be issued to the staff, however, a date for this was not confirmed,” said Gumede.

Gumede said this week staff returned to work and are awaiting the outcome.

Gumede said another issue was that the staff require psychological assistance as their job is not easy to cope with, however it has not been addressed.

The Department of Health was contacted for comment but none had been received at the time of going to press.

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