Articles
Government & Municipal News
18 September 2020

A large number of workers in the funeral industry across the country went on strike on Monday 14 September to demand improved working conditions, and higher remuneration and transformation in the industry. The strike which was supposed to last only 3 days, is still ongoing in certain regions and resulted in bodies not being picked up at government mortuaries, homes and, public and private hospitals. Some of the strikers also made good on their threats by blocking funerals from taking place, saying that government must first listen to their demands.

Platinum Weekly spoke to a local funeral parlour to find out how the strike affects them: “We have decided to remain open but are taking extra precautions as we are scared. Our hearses are not currently operational, and we have removed the stickers from our vehicles.”

In a press release dated 13 September, the Department of Health said that they are aware that a group of funeral parlours are planning to shut down the collection of human remains from private and public health facilities and that may lead to undesired conditions and risks to public health.

The department would like to emphasise the following:

  • All funeral undertakers and mortuary premises used in connection with the preparation, storage and preservation of human remains must have a valid certificate of competence issued by the relevant local authority.
  • Environmental health practitioners are and will continue to conduct inspections in all funeral undertakers’ premises in the country to check compliance with regulations. Legal action will be taken against owners of premises found to be in contravention.
  • Family members are urged to check the legitimacy of the undertakers and agents being utilised for the overall management of the burial of their loved ones to ensure proper tracking and tracing and that the handling of the remains is done with dignity and within the law.
  • Environmental health practitioners in the district and/or metropolitan municipalities can be contacted for assistance on any issues relating to the management of human remains and for advice to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The Department of Health is willing to continue with talks with the funeral parlour sector to come to an amicable solution.

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