Mortuary workers across the country have embarked on indefinite strike for the second time this year, to push for increment in salaries and better conditions of service.
They have accused the government of reneging on its promise of improving their working conditions, which include poor salaries, lack of personal protective equipment and poor working environment.
At the Komfo Anokye Teaching morgue Wednesday, May 29, the mortuary workers had vacated post. Hospital authorities told 3news.com they were not accepting new corpses from outside the facility.
Red bands hanged at the main entrance of the morgue as well as on hearses, ambulances and trucks used in conveying corpse from the wards.
Some relatives who had come for their corpses were served by an emergency team put in place by management of the hospital.
The hospital is however not taking in fresh corpse from outside the facility.
The Public Relations Unit of the hospital said management has put in place measures to move corpses from their wards to the morgue.
Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Mortuary Workers Association of Ghana, Ebenezer Asirifi told 3news.com that they will only resume work when the Ministry of Health meets their demands.
In March, members of the Association embarked on a sit-down strike on the same issue, but an intervention by the Ministry of Health and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission caused them to suspend the action.
Two months on, the Association said government has failed to fulfill its part of the agreement, hence the decision to lay down their tools.
Mr. Asirifi said mortuary workers are the lowest paid 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,” Mr Asirifi revealed, noting some of them are paid as low as 150 cedis per month.
He said their job is a high-risk one considering that they daily have to deal with bodies contagious diseases such as hepatitis B and tuberculosis as well as HIV/AIDs, which he said “can contaminate” them.
Mr Asirifi said the situation is even serious because most of them have had to handle these bodies without any form of protection whatsoever.
“Lack of protection; shoes, gloves and others. When you go the mortuary they don’t even have gloves and boots,” he stated.
He said they have since suspended the strike in March been trying to “negotiate” with the Ministry of Health and the FWSC but “everyday, they toss you; do this, come this, so many things. That’s why we have put our tools down”.
“This time we are not going to call off the strike until everything is done and it is written, apart from that we won’t call the strike off,” Mr Asiri insisted.