The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Thursday that Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa had mishandled the strike by forensic assistants by not getting a court order against it.
“She is bumbling from one crisis to another, including the disgraceful nonpayment of subsidies to 159 NGOs looking after mental health and other patients,” DA spokesperson on health Jack Bloom said in a statement.
Workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) embarked on a strike demanding similar benefits to pathologists.
“The illegal strike by forensic assistants in the 10 Gauteng state mortuaries has dragged on for three weeks despite concessions made to meet the demands of the workers,” Bloom said.
Bloom added that pathologists were doing the best they could with 10 military medics and eight volunteers from the National Association of Funeral Directors assisting them, although the backlog was still about 200 bodies.
“Autopsies are taking more than seven days instead of one day, to the great distress of families who have to delay funerals,” he said.
“Unions representing the workers are being unreasonable and cruel in continuing this illegal strike in an essential service.”
Bloom said he welcomed the intervention by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to promise payments to mental health NGOs by the end of this week.
“I agree with his statement that the health department needs a ‘big shakeup’, and I hope that the cabinet committee he has set up to assist health MEC Ramokgopa is successful.”
He said the health department had to get it right as many previous efforts to “turn around” the department had failed.
“Makhura’s intervention is urgently needed to resolve the mortuary strike as well.”