PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE
Durban - The forensic pathology services (FPS) workers in KwaZulu-Natal have sought intervention on provincial health challenges.

Employee representatives, ANC provincial leadership and health officials met at the legislature on Thursday and Friday to discuss the challenges, including the mortuary go-slow that began about two weeks ago.

The meeting was held to find solutions to the ongoing impasse between the Department of Health and its employees over salaries.

The Public and Allied Workers Union of SA (Pawusa) said no solutions were available after the meeting and that the go-slow would intensify.

“We thought we would mobilise our members to go back to work after the meeting on Friday, however we received a letter from the department saying it was withdrawing all written communication to forensic pathology services staff on FPS human resources matters as these were now discussed at the national level,” said Halalisani Gumede, Pawusa’s provincial secretary.

The letter stated that the rescission included all payment-related letters on back pay and translations.

Gumede said: “We met with the employer on Thursday and Friday. Even though not all the issues were ironed out, we were ready to mobilise our members to go back to work, but we were shocked by the department’s letter. The go-slow is still on”.

The impasse dates back to 2006 when the department took over mortuaries from the SAPS. When this happened, experienced and newly employed workers were graded the same.

In 2010, the Daily News reported that generators at the Magwaza Maphalala Street mortuary had been sabotaged, fridges switched off, identification tags cut from bodies and corpses mixed up, allegedly by striking workers.

Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu said Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli and other unions representing public servants had been present at the meeting.

“There were many issues and Dhlomo’s ability or lack thereof to run the department was among the items discussed. We agreed that we will have continuous engagements in finding solutions,” Shabangu said.

The department had said it would make pronouncements on its contingency plan at the appropriate time.

Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, the ANC provincial spokesperson, said the challenges the Health Department faced were a concern. She said there would be a follow-up meeting, on a date that had yet to be decided, at which possible solutions would be discussed by the parties.

Daily News