Health Ministry Offers 300 Mortuary Workers Vague Promise

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Health Ministry, say it has secured financial clearance for about 300 mortuary workers to be fully absorbed on to the government’s payroll system.

Currently, majority of mortuary attendants are only employed as casual workers, who earn monthly salaries of 250 cedis.

However, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the Ministry, Elorm Ametepe, said the workers would soon be moved onto the government’s payroll to address the problem.

“We decided that we are going to mechanize them. What I mean by mechanization is to roll them onto the payroll so that they will receive their salaries just like any other worker in the public sector.

“They brought a list of about three hundred of their colleagues who are not mechanized and we secured financial clearance for them.”

Mortuary workers, have been on strike for some time now over their conditions of service.

The strike, has created discomfort for families seeking bodies for burial.  They say, they will not call off their strike until their demands are met.

At the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital mortuary, people who came to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones last Friday, were turned away.

The mortuary attendants, have been demanding increased salaries and improved conditions of service from the government for several months now.

This is the second time mortuary workers are on a strike now.

However, negotiations between the Association and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, appear to have broken down, forcing the workers to lay down their tools again.

The Fair Wages, has described the strike as unfortunate.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Dr. Edward Kwapong, says although plans are advanced in addressing the concerns of the striking workers, their posture from the fallout of the negotiation process is worrying.

In the Kumasi Metropolis, some persons, who visited the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones deposited at the mortuary, were over the weekend left stranded, following a nationwide strike by mortuary workers.

The Mortuary unit of the KATH, had red banners tied against the gates to signify that they were embarking on a strike action.

Mortuary workers across the country, had embarked on an indefinite strike to demand better conditions of service, insisting if the government does not respond positively to their demands, they will not return to work.

The Chairman of the Mortuary Workers Union in the Ashanti Region, Emmanuel Assilfie, said they would only return to work when their grievances are fully addressed by government.

Speaking to Citi News, frustrated persons who were denied access to their bodies, appealed to the government to meet the demands of the mortuary workers in order to save them from such inconveniences.

Meanwhile, authorities of the KATH, say they have put measures in place to ensure that bodies that are due to be given to families are released.

They, however, noted that they’re no longer accepting new dead bodies in the mortuary as long as the strike continues.

This is the second time Mortuary workers are embarking on a strike after a similar one on March 4, 2019.

That strike was, however, called off after three days, following government’s assurances.

However, negotiations between the Association and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, appear to have broken down, forcing the workers to lay down their tools again.

During the three-day strike, several bereaved families were similarly left stranded at public mortuaries across the country; unable to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones for burial or deposit bodies.

The workers, say they are overworked and not paid for their overtime services.

Among their complaints, the Association said most of the workers were employed as casual workers, and their jobs are not guaranteed.

In terms of remuneration, the Mortuary workers say they’re treated as the most unrecognized in the health sector, and for that matter, they’re the least paid on the salary structure of the Ministry of Health with no single allowance.

The mortuary workers’ have been striking since last week, creating discomfort for families seeking their bodies for burial over the weekend.

At the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital mortuary, several persons who came to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones have already been turned away.

The mortuary attendants under the umbrella name, Mortuary Workers Association of Ghana, MOWAG, have been battling with the government to increase their salaries and improve their conditions of service for several months now.

The National Chairman of the association, Edward Mensah, said the strike will continue until their demands are met.

“Unless the government hears us, calls us and we understand and our people agree… [before] they will call the strike off,” he told Citi News.

“Maybe they should postpone their funeral or those kinds of things. We are not fighting with family but rather they should talk to the government to hear us out and then we all leave together.”

This is the second time Mortuary workers are embarking on a strike after a similar one on March 4, 2019.

That strike was however called off after three days following government’s assurances.

However, negotiations between the Association and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission appear to have broken down, forcing the workers to lay down their tools again.

During the three-day strike, several bereaved families were similarly left stranded at public mortuaries across the country; unable to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones for burial or deposit bodies.

Some bereaved families who went to the Upper West Regional hospital to retrieve their dead bodies were left stranded as staff manning the hospital morgue refused to attend to them due to the nationwide strike declared by their leadership.

Citi News’ Upper West regional correspondent, Latif Mahama, who visited the morgue reported that although some of the mortuary workers turned up for work, they kept the morgue under lock and key in strict adherence to the strike.

He said, about five dead bodies were billed to be released for burial at the regional hospital morgue, but the morgue was under lock and key with three abled men guarding it.

“Bereaved families were not allowed access to the morgue. The main exit to the facility was also locked,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Osei Kuffour Afreh, in an earlier interview with Citi News, said management at the facility met with the mortuary workers to convince them to rescind their strike action.

 

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