AT least four families received their autopsy report yesterday after officials at the Forensic Science Centre (FSC) hired workers from a nearby funeral home to do the work of striking mortuary attendants.
Newsday was informed that there are three permanent mortuary attendants and three contracted attendants. Of the three permanent attendants two are on prolonged sick leave and the other fell ill on Monday. There are usually four attendants who assists the pathologist on duty at any time. All three part-time attendants are refusing to work until they are paid for August. They are on repeated three-month contracts.
Newsday was told that in order to facilitate the autopsies, workers from the funeral home were brought in to assist. Sources at FSC said the funeral attendants were not qualified to assist in autopsies and so that, of the 15 bodies awaiting autopsies, only four were done. Sources said the regular attendants were capable of assisting with up to 20 autopsies a day, having done so in the past.
“They are trying to victimise the workers because they are standing up for themselves” an FSC source told Newsday. The source, who wished to remain anonymous as speaking with the media is a violation of his duties as a public servant, added that the attendants were lacking basic equipment to do their jobs and though they did much with little, they were continuously paid late.
“They have no medical, no holidays, no psychologist to talk to them about all that they go through on a daily basis. Is just work and go home and is every month they are getting paid late. Every month! They have families to see about too.”
When Newsday visited the FSC yesterday afternoon, two of the four families were still there awaiting results.
Relatives of Josiah Alisha Carrington who both died in a car accident last Saturday were not there. The family was given the run-around since Monday as the bodies of their relatives were shuffled between the FSC, the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex and the St James Health Facility. A relative of the Carringtons said they were able to get the autopsies done and would be making funeral arrangements today.
The source at FSC also said the x-ray machine had been out of service for over a year and workers had to “butcher people body” to get bullets from murder victims. Of the two autopsy rooms, only one is functional and the refrigerators are filled with unclaimed bodies. The funeral home, from which workers were hired to replace the attendants, also assists with refrigerating bodies when the FSC is overcrowded.
“Everything inside of there at a standstill now. I wish somebody would come and see what really going on. We have to deal with all kind of bodies. Up to today the attendants ain’t get a tuberculosis test for the year. They (FSC) just want them to work, work, work. Last year one of the attendants was diagnosed with TB.”
Newsday contacted the National Security Ministry, and Derek Sankar, head of the FSC and up to 6 pm received no response.