Gale street mortuary workers sitting outside Durban office as they have downed tools over their unhappiness with a manager returning to the office. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu on Thursday said she has given striking staff at the Magwaza Maphalala (Gale) Street Medico-Legal Mortuary an ultimatum to return to work, or risk the implementation of a court order that could lead to their dismissal if implemented.

The MEC said the illegal strike has resulted in delays to the completion of six autopsies that were due on Thursday. 

"It is believed that the workers are unhappy about the return of a manager who was previously in charge of the facility," said Simelane-Zulu. 

"However, the exact nature of their grievance against the manager is not known, and has not been declared by organised labour." 

“Firstly, we would like to apologise to all the families who are now anxious about whether they will be able to bury their loved ones due to the delay caused by the illegal strike. We have activated our contingency measures that will ensure that there is minimum disruption to service delivery,” said Simelane-Zulu.

Simelane-Zulu said they were reminding those who were not fulfilling their duties that they were part of an essential service, and that there was a court order in place which prohibits them from embarking on the illegal strike.

"We don’t want things to get to a point where we enforce that court order. However, if the situation does not change, we will be left with no option. If people don’t do their work in such a sensitive environment, than they will be charged accordingly."

"We cannot be held to ransom in this manner when families are grieving and urgently need to bury their loved ones, having lost them due to sudden and unexpected death. These delays are causing unnecessary secondary trauma, and we will not allow that to continue," said Simelane-Zulu. 

The MEC added that if any person has grievances, they should know that they must follow established labour relations procedures.

African News Agency (ANA)