FREETOWN, Nov 26 – Workers employed by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health to bury Ebola victims took drastic action this week in a dispute over pay, abandoning the bodies of 15 people in the street. Some were paraded at the entrance to a hospital Monday to stop people from entering. Another body was placed outside the entrance to a hospital administrative building.
The workers have gone on strike because they say they are owed seven weeks of their “hazard” pay of $100 a week. Burying Ebola victims is a dangerous task, since the deadly virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids. The bodies were all cleared as of Tuesday after burial teams working for the Red Cross, rather than the state, were called in.
The National Ebola Response Center has announced the sacking of all involved in the strike, said Sidi Yahyah Tunis, a spokesman for the centre. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are the three West African countries at the heart of the current Ebola outbreak. The vast majority of more than 15,000 Ebola cases and more than 5,000 deaths caused by the virus in recent months have occurred in those three nations, according to a World Health Organization report out Friday.