Workers picket for pay at meter firm

2010-07-22 00:00

FRUSTRATED sub-contractors stood their ground yesterday and planted themselves outside the Boom Street offices of Riotec Metering Solutions (RMS) demanding to be paid.

When The Witness arrived at the scene, a small gathering of frustrated employees had converged at the front entrance and were refusing to budge until they were attended to.

Speaking on behalf of the sub-contractors and employees, Theo Konigkramer of Elect Mech said they had not been paid since January and “people are owed thousands”.

He said RMS, a subsidiary of Unique Mbane — the company awarded the controversial R240 million smart electricity and water meter tender — had sub-contracted two companies to help it with electricity reconnections and disconnections, but it kept making excuses as to why it has not paid them.

Konigkramer said: “We are now desperate. These men will not leave [the premises] until we get answers ... It’s a crying shame.”

He said workers are struggling to make ends meet and RMS’s claims that it cannot pay them because it is awaiting payment from the municipality have proved to be false.

Konigkramer said he has seen invoices that show the municipality has made some payments to the company, and the sub-contractors are tired of listening to the same excuse.

He said the workers have to use their own vehicles, petrol and tools when carrying out duties for RMS and some even have to hire vehicles just so that they could work.

Speaking to The Witness on condition of anonymity, workers said they feel as if they are being punished because the pilot project, which was to be the starting point for of the R240 million smart meter system, is a disaster.

“The project failed. I was one of the men who went to check on those meters,” said Konigkramer.

When The Witness left the premises yesterday afternoon, the complainants said they were prepared to camp there all night until the matter was sorted out.

Konigkramer later contacted The Witness to say the workers had attended a meeting with a company executive and were promised a substantial payment yesterday afternoon, which is to be followed by another considerable payment next Wednesday.

He said they were told that the balance will be paid next Friday after the company meets the municipality.

But Konigkramer has his doubts.

“We are fearful that this is just talk,” he said.

Unique Mbane CEO Thiru Chetty said they met the sub-contractors yesterday “and all the issues that were there were resolved”.

The Msunduzi Municipality had not responded by the time of going to print.

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