Mortuary Workers To Lay Down Tools This Wednesday
By Gifty Arthur
Mortuary workers across the country are threatening to withdraw their services indefinitely, beginning this Wednesday, November 29, to demand better conditions of service, after embarking on similar strike actions sometime in 2019.
Their body, the Mortuary Workers Association of Ghana (MOWAG), in a statement, dated November 20, 2023, sighted by The Anchor, said the action has been necessitated by the failure to resolve all grievances put forward by the workers.
The statement, signed by the association’s general secretary, Richard Jordan, further said, “We respectfully do not intend to bore your good-serves with long essay. However, at the general meeting of members of MOWAG, it was agreed that since all avenues to resolve our grievances have proven futile, notice of infinite nationwide STRIKE be served as in Section 159 of Act, 651 (2003).”
The workers, whose threat to strike is likely to impact the health negatively, if not resolved, said all their members will embark on the impending indefinite strike until such a time when all the issues are resolved.
The latest action by the workers is the last resort, after a longstanding grievance, pertaining to salary differences, working conditions and inadequate resources to discharge their duties. In the past, they have held similar sit-down strikes in March and May, 2019.
The statement, which was copied to six institutions, namely the Minister of Health, Minister of National Security, Minister of Finance; Chief Executive of Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and the Executive Director of the National Labour Commission, explained that this is a right they enjoy from the constitution of Ghana.
“Our position is that, all mortuary workers in Ghana shall lay down their tools starting on Wednesday, 29th November, 2023, until all matters already in your domain are resolved.
“This is in exercise of our rights as the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana stipulates. You are respectfully notified,” the statement added.
It is the third strike action, after the 2019 ones, over the same conditions of service.
During the first two strikes in 2019, the workers accused government of reneging on its promise to improve their working condition, which includes poor salaries, lack of personal protection equipment and poor working environment.
But the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission described the strike as illegal.
The commission said the group failed to go through the approved procedure before declaring the industrial action.
The chief executive officer of the commission, Dr. Edward Kwapong, told Citi News that the group should have first informed the commission of their challenges and enable negotiations to commence, but it did not do so.
The association declared an indefinite strike for its members on Tuesday, March 4, 2019, over their low salaries and poor working conditions.
In May, 2019, when the second sit-down strike was embarked upon, after the first one in March, that same year, the Ashanti Region chairman of the association, Ebenezer Asirifi, lamented that they are the lowest paid workers on the Health Workers Pay Structure.
“Our salary is very low. When you see the salary structure, which came out this year, we are very down. The highest paid is 600,” he said, adding that some of them are paid as low as 150 per month.
He said some of his colleagues have had to handle dead bodies without protective gear, lack of protection, shoes, gloves and others.
“When you go to the mortuary, they don’t even have gloves and boots,” he lamented.