Unpaid bills, unread meters

2011-08-03 00:00

ELECTRICITY and water meter readers who work for a contractor now fear losing their jobs after the Msunduzi Municipality has not paid their employer for four months.

Moreover, the 84 meter readers are worried that if the municipality does not pay their employer, ratepayers might be subjected to estimated meter readings which, according to them, are always higher than manually conducted meter readings.

The 84 meter readers said that they each read between 150 and 200 meters a day.

The company has been reading meters for the municipality for nearly two years and cannot be named at this stage to protect its employees from victimisation. The company is also used by the municipality to investigate ratepayers’ queries about their electricity and water bills.

Speaking to The Witness following yest erday’s story about contractors who do connections and reconnections for the council who were told they will be paid two weeks late, the meter readers said that they also have families to feed and school fees to pay. They add that their employer not being paid for four months made them worry about their future.

“When we were not paid on Monday we demanded our salaries from the employer, who paid up from his own pocket.

“Yesterday we were called into a meeting by our bosses, who told us that the municipality has not paid them for months and that we should stay at home and not come to work until the municipality pays,” said the meter readers.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said the municipality conducted an assessment exercise on the work being carried out by the contractor.

“We discovered that the municipality was compromised because not all meters were read, and yet we were billed for all meters having been read. We then approached the company and advised that they would have to adjust the invoices, less the amount of work not done, to which the company agreed,” said Zuma. He said that the council has since received the adjusted invoices, which are being processed and will be paid today.

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