The strike is over!

An article from the Daily Sun:

http://www.dailysun.co.za/News/National/mortuary-pathology-strike-is-over-20170706

“GAUTENG Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has announced that the protected work-to-rule strike by forensic pathology officers is over.
Ramokgopa told media at a briefing this afternoon that all the officers had returned to their work stations on Wednesday morning.
Ramokgopa said their teams were now hard at work to clear away backlogs in all the affected facilities.
Forensic pathology officers reported for duty in Germiston, Hillbrow, Roodepoort and Diepkloof, those most affected in Gauteng. They also reported for duty at other facilities in the province.
Ramokgopa said smaller facilities such as Sebokeng, Carletonville, Ga-Rankuwa, Bronkhorstspruit and Heidelberg did not have major backlogs.
According to the department, 188 pathologists at 11 mortuaries had been on strike.
Ramokgopa pleaded with grieving families to be patient while the department expedited the release of the bodies of their loved ones.
Pathologists were on strike for a few weeks and it has affected state mortuaries in various parts of Gauteng.
Some family members had to postpone the funerals of their loved ones due to the backlog of pending post-mortems.
According to the department the strike resulted in a backlog of more than 250 bodies.
The affected facilities have all been restored to full capacity, Ramokgopa said, and their teams would move to stabilise and mobilise the facilities.
Issues raised by the forensic pathology officers included salary scales not in line with those pertaining to their 2006 transfer from the SAPS to the Gauteng Department of Health, danger allowances and the reintroduction of debriefing sessions. Other concerns were provision of equipment, protective clothing and revised job descriptions.
She said it had been agreed that a training programme would be developed that would enable forensic pathology officers to register with a statutory body.”

NFDA Inland Chairman Mike Collinge on SABC NEWS

An independent view on the strike at the state mortuaries:

 

DA disgusted by backlog of bodies in Gauteng mortuaries

On Thursday, the DA in Gauteng called on premier David Makhura to intervene in a crisis that has seen bodies pile up in mortuaries.

DA Gauteng spokesman Jack Bloom said the strike was in its third week‚ despite commitments to resolve it. He blamed Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa for mishandling the strike from the start by not getting a court order to stop it.

“Pathologists are doing the best they can with 10 military medics and eight volunteers from the National Funeral Directors Association assisting them‚ but the backlog is still about 200 bodies. Autopsies are taking more than seven days instead of one day‚ to the great distress of families who have to delay funerals‚” Bloom said in a statement.

“Unions representing the workers are being unreasonable and cruel in continuing this illegal strike in an essential service.”

According to the information we have – the strike is now over.

Strike Continues

“The Strike is still continuing and the assistance from the military is only 10 people, so the backlog is more than 200.

Its not looking too good, but I hope they settle it soon.” – Jack Bloom

Newsletter June 2017

Click on the link below to view the June 2017 Newsletter

NEWSLETTER June 2017

DA WELCOMES SANDF INTERVENTION TO CLEAR GAUTENG MORTUARY BACKLOG

DA WELCOMES SANDF INTERVENTION TO CLEAR GAUTENG MORTUARY BACKLOG

I welcome the intervention today of the SA National Defence Force health services to help reduce the backlog at Gauteng mortuaries due to a strike by provincial forensic pathology officers.

There are about 200 post-mortems that have to be done, some of them on bodies that have been in the mortuaries for more than a week.

I am aware of at least four affected mortuaries – Diepkloof, Hillbrow, Germiston and Roodepoort.

I am concerned, however, that police have not been able to provide sufficient protection to doctors to enable them to perform the autopsies.

The Gauteng Health Department has also unreasonably refused families to employ private pathologists working with police supervision to do the autopsies, which are done in all cases of suspected unnatural death.

This strike has caused incredible anguish to families of the deceased. This includes legal action that is being contemplated by Muslim families who are religiously required to bury the deceased on the day of death.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura needs to step in to ensure that all relevant departments work together to ensure the safety of those working at the mortuaries and to resolve this distressing strike as soon as possible.

Statement by Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

NFDA Constitution – Proposed amendments 2017

Prepared by Alan Lindhorst on behalf of the National Executive of the NFDA, January 2017,
to be tabled at the AGM of the NFDA on Tuesday 7th February 2017 at Hemingways Casino, East London

A. PROPOSAL TO CHANGE THE TERM OF OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT & VICE-PRESIDENT
The current clause on the term of office is as follows:

4.2 TERM OF OFFICE

4.2.1 The President and Vice President shall be elected for a period of three (3)
years. He/she may not hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

The proposal is to limit the term of office to two years, to read as follows:

4.2.1 The President and Vice President shall be elected for a period of two (2)
years. He/she may not hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

Motivation: The three year term was decided upon at the Bosberaad in Nov 2010, and written into the
new Constitution of Feb 2011. In practice it has been found to be too long, and with a double term,
this is six years. Some office bearers have resigned before their term is up (for business
reasons). The term of office for regional office bearers is two years, with two consecutive terms
allowed. The proposal is to bring the national term in line with the regional term of two years.

B. PROPOSAL TO FIRM UP THE PROCEDURES FOR APPROVAL OF APPLICATIONS TO JOIN NFDA

The current clause of the procedures to approve applications is as follows:

3.7.6 “They apply for membership (by category) on the prescribed form and their application is
proposed and seconded in writing by existing Full Members of the NFDA. After inspection of their
premises, membership is approved or declined by their Regional Executive or (if there is no
established Region, or if referred by the Regional Executive) by the National Executive of the
NFDA. No inspection is necessary in applications for Associate membership, unless human remains
are brought onto the premises (e.g. crematoria, storage mortuaries, etc.).”

The proposal is to change this to the following:

3.7.6

(i) They apply for membership (by category) on the prescribed form and their application is
proposed and seconded in writing by existing Full Members of the NFDA.
(ii) They send their form, with required attachments, either to the Administrative Manager, or to
the Regional Executive. Forms (with attachments) sent to the Regional Executive are forwarded on to
the Administrative Manager, and vice versa. (iii) They pay the required application fee into the
NFDA bank account, with a payment notification sent to the Administrative Manager.
(iv) After receipt of the documents and fee, the Administrative Manager requests the Regional
Chairperson to arrange an inspection of the premises of the applicant. If the applicant is not
based in an established or active region of the NFDA, the Administrative Manager requests a member
of the National Executive to do the inspection; but if not practicable, a Full Member in the area
can be asked.
(v) After inspection of their premises, membership is approved or declined by the Regional
Executive or (if there is no established or active Region) by the National Executive. The Regional
Executive may refer the decision to the National Executive. A report on applications approved or
declined by the Regional Executive is tabled at the next regular meeting of the National Executive.
(vi) No inspection is necessary in applications for Associate membership, unless human remains are
brought onto the premises (e.g. crematoria).

Motivation: The National Executive has clarified and firmed up the procedure for applications for
membership of the NFDA. The existing clause needs to be fleshed out to incorporate additional
detail – for the benefit of both applicants and NFDA executives.
Proposed amendments to NFDA Constitution – AGM 2017
Page 3 of 3

C. PROPOSAL TO UPDATE AUTHORITY FOR OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE

The current clause regarding official correspondence is as follows:

9.1 CORRESPONENCE
9.1.1 Correspondence on official letterheads may only be signed on behalf of the
NFDA, by:
(i) Members of the National Executive; (ii) A Regional Chairperson or Secretary
(i) The Editor of the official publication of the NFDA

9.1.2 All correspondence for the NFDA must be sent to either: (i) The official address of
the NFDA;
(ii) The address of the President, National Secretary or
Administrative Manager;
(iii) The address of a Regional Chairperson or Regional Secretary; (i) The address of
the Editor of the official publication of the NFDA.

The proposal is to update this clause to authorise officials of the NFDA that would require this in
their conduct of NFDA affairs, to send official correspondence on behalf of the NFDA , as well as
widening the list of recipient addresses – as follows: (It is proposed to leave Clause 9.1.3
unaltered – re times of delivery of mail).

9.1 CORRESPONENCE
9.1.1 Correspondence on official letterheads may only be signed on behalf of the
NFDA, by:
(i) Members of the National Executive
(ii) Officials appointed by the National Executive, namely: (a) National Secretary
(b) National Treasurer
(c) Convenor of Funeral Expo
(d) Public Relations Officer (PRO)
(e) Editor of the official publication of the NFDA (iii) Administrative Manager
(iv) A Regional Chairperson or Secretary
(v) A Member co-opted by of the National Executive for a specific responsibility –
e.g. Home Affairs Liaison Officer

9.1.2 All correspondence for the NFDA must be sent to one of the following, as applicable:
(i) The official address of the NFDA;
(ii) The address of the President, National Secretary, Treasurer or
Administrative Manager;
(vi) The address of a Regional Chairperson or Secretary; (vii) The address of the
Convenor of Funeral Expo
(viii) The address of the Editor of the official publication of the NFDA.

Numsa Investment Co. to create umbrella retirement fund

Numsa Investment Company, the investment arm of South Africa’s largest trade union, has applied for a section 13B licence to set up an umbrella fund such that employees at small factories will be able to invest in its retirement fund.

Khandani Msibi, CEO and executive chairman of Numsa Investment Company, said factories with ten to 150 employees will be able to invest in the new fund, which is to be based on a similar model to its joint venture with financial services firm 10X Investments. “10X will do the investments, but costs will be the key driver of the system that we are coming up with,” Msibi told reporters at an investment roundtable in Johannesburg.

He said the decision to set up an umbrella fund follows numerous requests by employees at small factories, who had heard of the relative success of the existing Numsa Investment Company-10X passive investment model. This, after the historic investment returns on its joint venture retirement fund – servicing employees at a Ford motors plant in Port Elizabeth – outpaced the returns on the automotive company’s own fund, he said.

“Last year, the returns for Ford were around 5.5% and 10X was 9% and they were claiming it was because of Nenegate but we said ‘10X was also exposed to Nenegate – everybody who was investing was exposed’. The numbers, when we compare them, show a R3.6 billion benefit to workers over 20 years given the two styles of investment,” he said.

According to Steven Nathan, CEO of 10X Investments, the average automotive industry worker has around R400 000 in their provident fund, largely due to a union-mandated contribution rate of around 17% and low staff turnover in the industry.

Speaking at the launch of 10X’s #StopDaylightRobbery campaign, Nathan also said that high investment fees are likely to have a damaging long-term effect on investors’ retirement income. “That is the harsh reality of investment costs: they compound in an unexpected and dramatic manner, and have a disproportionate impact on the long-term savings outcome,” he said, noting that fees have been shown to be the single biggest indicator of how investments will perform.

Msibi told Moneyweb that the umbrella fund will fall under the domain of Numsa Investment Company’s 360 Financial Services Group; its subsidiaries Union Life and UiPlay will provide administrative support. He expects the Financial Services Board to formally grant Numsa Investment Company the section 13B licence in the coming weeks and is aiming to launch the umbrella fund at the Numsa Special National Congress in mid-December.

Source: Moneyweb

NFDA Responds to the Funeral Service Ombudsman

It was with great concern that we took note of recent newspaper articles and radio interviews which portray the entire funeral industry in South Africa as being in a state of complete chaos and disarray.

Certain individuals are making public announcements regarding a new regulating authority and Ombudsman that will address alleged atrocities which are rife in an “unregulated” funeral industry.

These reports are inaccurate and a distortion of the truth, but have the potential to tarnish the public image and reputation of respectable funeral establishments, whilst the driver(s) of this campaign are trying to satisfy personal ambitions.

Our intention with this letter is to present facts that will put issues into perspective and correct the misconception that all funeral service providers are conducting business according to their own rules in a completely unregulated environment.

We urge the public, whilst considering the proposed regulations and Code of Conduct for comment, to take cognisance of the following facts:

1. The funeral industry in South Africa is not free from regulation. There is an abundance of regulations which apply to funeral establishments. These laws/regulations are however contained in various statutes and by-laws. Whilst there is not an overseeing regulating authority for the funeral service industry, this is true of many industries and should not be portrayed as unusual or strange.

The funeral service industry is obligated to comply with national legislation and municipal by-laws and therefore local authorities enforce compliance. Certain other regulations, which are applicable, relate to the provision of financial services and are enforced by the Financial Services Board. These are just examples of many regulations which are applicable and therefore the term “unregulated” industry creates the incorrect impression that “anything goes”.

Non-compliance with the regulations could have serious repercussions for service providers (e.g. criminal prosecution or closure of the establishment) and therefore the public is advised to always make use of reputable establishments.

2. The majority of the larger, more prominent and long established funeral undertakings in South Africa are associated to one of three associations listed below, which in turn are associated with the Funeral Federation of South Africa (FFSA).

• National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)
• South African Funeral Practitioners Association (SAFPA)
• Independent Funeral Directors Association (IFDA)

The FFSA and the associations affiliated to it have approximately 3 000 member organisations (businesses). These member organisations are subject to and must conform to the FFSA’s Code of Conduct providing consumers with recourse against the FFSA’s members for failing to comply with its code. The code provides an alternative dispute resolution process as would the proposed ombudsman scheme.

The provisions of the Consumer Protection Act apply to funeral service providers and consumers have recourse against unscrupulous undertakers via the National Consumer Commission (NCC).

3. There are undoubtedly unscrupulous funeral service providers in the market exploiting consumers and as such, the members of the FFSA are in favour of an industry code of conduct and the appointment of an Ombudsman for the funeral industry to protect consumers against abuse and exploitation.

During a recent meeting with the NCC, which was held to consult members of the FFSA, we declared our support for statutory governance, but we expressed the concern that role-players were not consulted on the proposed regulations and Code of Conduct before it being published in the Government Gazette.

All objections and concerns were duly noted by the NCC. The FFSA was invited to compile an alternative Industry code that would be representative of the industry and address the serious shortcomings of the code proposed by “Funeral Industry Regulatory Authority” (FIRA).

4. The organisation known as FIRA is not (contrary to the misconception created by its name) the official regulating authority for the funeral industry and has no statutory authority, nor does it represent any constituency other than its own directors.

The directors of FIRA developed the proposed regulations and Code of Conduct without consultation with any other industry role-players. The Code of Conduct proposed by FIRA is fundamentally flawed and is not endorsed by the FFSA. A certain director of the company has had a chequered career in the funeral industry, amongst others being involved in two failed funeral companies, unsuccessfully attempted to have a funeral training college accredited by SSETA, having at least one civil judgement against him (awarded with costs), being a recipient of at least one attorney’s letter regarding defamation of character and/or slander, and being the originator of an unsuccessful, multi-million rand document (paid for by the tax payer) proposing to change legislation relating to funeral directors. Objections and concerns were raised during the recent meeting between the NCC and members of the FFSA.

We trust that the above will put matters regarding this burning issue into perspective and we would like to suggest that the media approaches the FFSA and/or the affiliated associations for comment to obtain an objective and balanced overview of the industry at large.

NFDA Not Opposed to a Funeral Service Ombudsman

The NFDA is not opposed to the introduction of a funeral services ombudsman- in fact we welcome it. We do, however, have an issue with the way that the Funeral Services Code was gazetted without any consultation. Consultation takes place before the fact, not after.
Johan Rosseau of FIRA has stated, on radio, that his research is available to anyone who requests it. A member of the NFDA EXCO has written to him, asking for a copy of these documents. It would be interesting to see the outcome of this request.


We would also like to know what constitutes being an expert in the funeral industry? Is it the number of years that a person has worked in the industry, or the number of funeral businesses that you have run?
Many of the stories that have been run on FIRA’s social media pages date back many years. These incidents are rehashed, making them seem as if they have occurred recently. Whilst we do not doubt that there are instances of poor service, and of companies acting in an unethical manner, we feel that the number of transgressions has decreased in the past years, mainly due to the existence of various associations.


If we take that there are 54 000 000 people in SA, and we have a death rate of around 13.05 deaths per 1000 people, we have about 700 000 funerals per annum in SA. The number of complaints that we receive, or hear about, is minute in comparison with the number of funerals conducted. We would like it if there were no complaints at all, but we are dealing with people who are fallible, so mistakes can happen.


The NFDA is of the opinion that the current process of the appointment of a funeral services ombudsman is reminiscent of the drafting of the ill-fated Gauteng Funeral Regulations that was developed at great cost to the province a few years ago by the same person that is pushing the Funeral Services Code.