Teams Who Bury Ebola Victims Go On Strike Over Stopped Hazard Pay

Ebola burial workers

*It’s sad to hear that we have lost the gentleman in Dallas to Ebola. Hope had been held out when we first heard his condition was critical but stable, but that hope waned after the determination changed to critical. Today we learn Thomas Eric Duncan succumbed to the virus.


We continue to try and wrap our brain around the workings of Ebola. And although so very grateful, question how some people, like the health industry workers who returned from Liberia recently with the virus, were treated and survived – yet others continue to die.

Yet and still, we probably never even considered the risk those who bury these victims face. Until now…

Team leaders for a group in two regions of Sierra Leon say the workers with this responsibility have recently chosen to go on strike, Not because of any increased fear, they already realized the risks involved in their work; but because the weekly allowance they were paid to take those risks have stopped.

Because of the highly infectious nature of the virus, and the fact that it remains active in the corpses of victims, only specialized teams in protective clothing are allowed to remove and dispose of the bodies.

Now it is feared that such a strike could worsen the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone, where 121 deaths and countless new infections were recorded on a single day last week.

“We have decided to stop working until they pay us our weekly risk allowance,” Tamba Nyandemoh told Reuters. They have not been paid for two weeks, he said. The teams bury between 17 and 35 bodies daily, according to Nyandemoh.

Each team has 12 workers and every member of a team earns about $100 a week. Sierra Leone deputy health minister Madina Rahman said the teams have been paid through the end of September. They are only owed for this week, she said. Rahman did not comment on the demand for risk pay.


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