An apparent lack of financial support for forensic pathology officers (FPO) by the health department is one of the main reasons for the strike at eight of Gauteng’s mortuaries. About 180 forensic assistants are on strike, claiming they were underpaid and doing work they were not qualified for. The protest, now in its second week, has led to a backlog of more than 200 bodies at state mortuaries and the number keeps rising. In April 2006, legislation shifted the forensic mortuaries from the South African Police Service to the Department of Health. After that, a revised salary structure known as occupation specific dispensation (OSD) was introduced. This was meant to align salaries to the market and enhance upward job mobility. At the time, the department said the salary structure would provide differentiated remuneration across all sectors of the public-sector health service, cater for the unique needs of the different occupations and prescribe grading structures and job profiles to e...

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