Home News Funeral parlours to embark on national three-day strike

Funeral parlours to embark on national three-day strike

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Spokesperson for the Department of Health Lebogang Majaha indicated that there had not been any disruption to mortuary services in the Northern Cape so far.

Undertakers carry a coffin out of a hearse. File picture: Claudio Furlan, LaPresse via AP

Cape Town – Over 300 funeral parlours are expected to embark on a three-day strike, starting on Monday, shutting down funeral-related services across the country. They are calling for a nationwide shutdown of all funeral parlours from September 14-16.

The Unification Task Team of the Funeral Industry (UTT) has vowed not to collect corpses, conduct burials or provide funeral supplies and has requested families to call the police to arrange for home removals.

The parlours demanded that outsourcing of mortuary facilities be legalised, called for the allocation of a Covid-19 relief fund for the Funeral Industry (UTT) and the abolition of the tender system in the funeral industry.

They also want municipality by-laws amended to accommodate the building of bulk or complex storages and for the government to introduce programmes to assist struggling funeral undertakers who were previously disadvantaged.

UTT national co-ordinator Thozamile Dladla said the funeral industry had been “reasonably” patient with the government.

“For many years, this industry has engaged government officials on different levels and spheres as far as industry regulations are concerned. But those noble efforts fell on deaf ears and economic transformation is still a dream. After all the back and forth, multiple meetings, extensive discussions, reaching out to the government, we absolutely have nothing to show apart from empty promises.

“The national shutdown will be well planned and executed to clearly demonstrate the industry’s dissatisfaction towards the government. There’s no intention to vandalise and/or assault … however … we are warning those individuals and/or organisations who try to interfere, disrupt or stop the programme of the day that UTT will not guarantee their safety,” he said

Western Cape Muslim Undertakers Forum president Ebrahim Solomon said the forum was not supporting the shutdown. However, they were in solidarity with the other funeral parlours.

“As far as the Undertakers Forum and the Western Cape Funeral Federation is concerned, our demands with those suggested by the UTT are different. We will be in solidarity with them to get their demands off the ground but we will not be joining the shutdown because we have to bury as soon as possible,” Solomon said.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the national undertakers strike has not had much of an impact in Kimberley.

Lionel Majosi from the Northern Cape Funeral Practitioners Association on Monday said that some undertakers in the city were striking in solidarity to prevent the closure of small businesses in the industry.

“We are objecting to legislation that is being introduced by government that will be to the detriment of previously disadvantaged undertakers, where big companies with financial muscle will receive preference to conduct burials. Many small businesses will have to close their doors as they cannot afford exorbitant insurance and licences. This will affect the livelihoods of many businesses where many people will be left without jobs,” he said.

He added that many funeral undertakers in the province could not afford to close their doors during the shutdown.

“It is a catch 22 situation because how do you tell a family member that you are unable to bury their loved ones? Also private hospitals do not have mortuary facilities.”

The majority of funeral undertakers in the city said that they were operating as normal although one parlour indicated that they would close their doors at noon in support of the strike.

Spokesperson for the Department of Health Lebogang Majaha indicated that there had not been any disruption to mortuary services in the Northern Cape so far.

Additional reporting by Sandi Kwon Hoo