Underpaid undertakers revolt over call-out fee

Underpaid undertakers are refusing to accept call-outs to fatal accidents – because of the pittance they are being paid by the Council for their work.

A growing number of them have already declined to attend tragic incidents – and Galway County Council has admitted it does not have the resources to pay them a higher fee.

The establish practice has seen Gardaí require the service of undertakers to remove bodies to hospitals for examination, after tragedies such as fatal road accidents, suicides and drownings.

But undertakers say they are paid a mere €57 for the call-out – and €30 of this goes towards a body bag.

They could also spend several hours at a scene and yet come out with less than €30 for their time – and the vast majority of these incidents occur in the early hours of the morning.

The matter was raised at a meeting of Galway County Council by Cllr Joe Folan who has asked that the local authority review the rate that they pay to undertakers in such circumstances. He said that several Connemara undertakers had already made themselves unavailable.

The Connemara independent councillor said that it was not a case of undertakers refusing to attend the scenes of tragedies but because they are not being paid an acceptable amount for this service, many are not making themselves available.

“There could be a situation that requires a hearse, a driver and possibly an assistant in the middle of the night – an incident that could last four or five hours – and all they are getting is €57. And €30 of that is gone in a body bag.

“We are going to be left in a situation in which we will have no undertaker attending the scene of a tragedy or unexplained death and that will be very embarrassing for all involved,” Cllr Folan added.

But Director of Services Michael Owens did not provide much hope of the payment to undertakers being increased anytime soon as he explained that they did not have the resources to do so.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.