Durban - Employees of the forensic pathology services in KwaZulu-Natal have been on an illegal strike since the start of the week, the province said on Wednesday.
Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said his department had applied for a court interdict to end the strike and to stop interference with those still reporting for duty.
He said forensic pathology was regarded an “essential service” by the Labour Relations Act.
This meant workers employed in that field could not embark on strike action.
“We have thus given all those partaking in this illegal action an ultimatum that they must return to work, failing which they will face disciplinary action,” said Dhlomo.
The strike was sparked by human resources issues which Dhlomo claimed had been discussed with the unions.
He apologised to families whose burial plans had been affected by the strike.
“As a department we have now put measures in place to ensure that bereaved families are able to bury their loved ones as per schedule,” said Dhlomo.
“As means to ensure that services are made available, we have thus put contingency plans in place by enlisting the assistance of the SA Police Service, through the office of the provincial commissioner, to be available for the collection and transportation of bodies from crime and accident scenes,” he said.
The health department's vehicles had been made available for this purpose.
“The affected districts have also been mandated to make use of the existing arrangements with the private sector by utilising private funeral parlours for storage as means to minimise inconveniences to the bereaved,” said Dhlomo.
The department had set up a help desk to assist bereaved families during the strike.