The National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) says its members are not on strike but have instead refused to do work that is not within their job specifications.
The so-called strike at government mortuaries has left families frustrated and in despair.
Over the weekend, a Muslim family was successful in its legal bid, forcing the Diepkloof government mortuary in Soweto to release the body of a 28-year-old man and perform an autopsy nearly two weeks after his death.
Stephen Grootes spoke to Nehawu's Khaya Xaba.
Basically workers refuse to do work that is not in their scope...For more than 10 years they have been doing this. This is not a new matter it was raised with the department four months ago. It is a wrong characterisation to say workers are on strike or a go slow. They have always been at work ready to do what is part of their job description.— Khaya Xaba, spokesperson
Talks between the provincial government and Nehawu hit a deadlock last week and are expected to continue.
The situation is getting more dire, so that is why we decided that the meeting must happen as soon as possible.— Khaya Xaba, spokesperson
We said to the department, workers are not opposed to doing the work but they should be trained and registered with the health professionals of South Africa, because should something go wrong workers would have to face the full might of the law. The department refused to do that and also refused to remunerate workers for what they are doing.— Khaya Xaba, spokesperson
Xaba says the department refused to comply with the union's request and also refused to remunerate workers for the additional work are doing.
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This article first appeared on 702 : Gauteng pathology crisis: 'Our members have never been on strike'- Nehawu