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Mortuary workers suspend strike action

Mortuary workers in public hospitals across the country yesterday suspended the strike action they embarked on, on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

The industrial action was put on hold following a meeting between the Mortuary Association of Ghana (MOWAG) and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).

At the meeting, the National Labour Commission (NLC), at whose instance the strike action was suspended, asked the workers and FWSC to report back to the NLC on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, for a final decision to be made on their concerns.

The MOWAG in their proposal submitted asked for salary increment and improvement on their working conditions.

Speaking to the Ghanaian Times in an interview, Mr Edward Mensah Akpakudi, the National Chairman of MOWAG said they had resumed work based on the directives of the NLC.

He said that they would go on with the strike if their needs are not met, adding that “the strike is on hold, if they do not attend to our grievances, we will continue with the strike.”

According to him, the morgue lacked inadequate equipment to enable workers discharge their duties efficiently.

Mr Akpakudi explained that workers were denied “off days” as they work more than the scheduled hours.

Mr Ebenezer Essilfie, National Vice Chair of MOWAG said that although the Ministry of Health told workers at their recent meeting that a proposal on their (workers) grievances was sent to FWSC, the commission had failed to address their concerns.

Mortuary workers across the country embarked on a strike action on Tuesday, March 5 to demand pay rise and better conditions of service.

 The Bolgatanga Regional Hospital mortuary in the Upper East Region did not take part in the industrial action since according to Mr Daniel Alhassan Azaah , he was the only mortuary attendant at the facility and joining  his colleagues would spell disastrous consequences for the hospital.

He told the Ghanaian Times that the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital mortuary was working, saying “I am the only mortuary man who has been working in the facility for the past years and therefore could not afford to join the strike action.

‘’ You have just seen me carrying a dead body this morning from the male ward to the morgue haven’t you?” he questioned this reporter in an interview.

Mr Azaah ,  however,  expressed unhappiness about the poor conditions of service of mortuary workers in the country , stressing,  “our work is  so difficult and many Ghanaians including the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and  the government know about that but yet  they are doing nothing about that”. 

“As a head of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital morgue I would like to use your medium as a platform to appeal to the health authorities and the Government to work towards improving our conditions of service,” Mr Azaah stated.

The MOWAG among other things claimed that many of the mortuary workers are denied perpetually their annual leave in violation of Section 20 of Act 651, working more than the required eight hours including Saturdays and Sundays in violation of Section 33 of Act 651 of the Labour Act and having most of them employed as casual and temporary workers in violation of Section 74 and 75 of Act 651, which does not guarantee job security especially in the environment in which they work.

In terms of remuneration, they contended that it was unfortunate that mortuary workers are treated as most unrecognised in the sector and for that matter, least paid on the salary structure of Ministry of Health with no single allowance.

Many of the mortuary facilities they claimed, were understaffed, no maintenance which compromises on health and safety rules of the sector making the workers unnecessarily suffer in silence.

Touching on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), some have to struggle to get them to use making the working conditions at some facilities undesirable, adding that there was no provision for universal medical check up plans in violation of Sections 118 of Act 651.

BY ABEDUWAA LUCY APPIAH

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