‘Pay, don’t ask questions’ ratepayers hear as Msunduzi billing fails

2019-03-04 17:12

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Pay, but don’t ask questions. That was the message to ratepayers wanting to pay their bills at the AS Chetty municipal building over the weekend amid the ongoing illegal strike by the billing department.

Private security guards in black suits kept watch, and one of them stationed at the entrance told The Witness on Sunday that only payments were being processed. He said the other sections remained closed and that residents could not query their utility bills or get any statements printed out.

Only two counters were open when The Witness visited the offices on Sunday and four private security guards were seen sitting inside.

On Friday, acting Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said that the offices would be open to assist with all billing related queries.

Last week, The Witness reported that the municipal bills for last month are incomplete. Bills for February display the total charge but the bill itself only breaks down water usage for the month. Well-placed sources claimed the City was not issuing bills to members of the public so it could hide its latest blunder.

The billing department downed tools for the first time two weeks ago, and within a day resumed duties. Last week Thursday, they again went on strike. The workers are protesting over pay, working conditions and job descriptions, among other complaints.

Striking staff are demanding an increase in their salaries to R8 300 after deductions, complaining that they are overburdened with work and are due increases.

Workers had initially met with Msunduzi and given the City an ultimatum to respond to their demands by Wednesday last week. They said this did not happen.

Ngcobo told The Witness on Sunday the municipality had sent private security guards to the offices to protect workers who were not on the illegal strike, as well as customers.

“It is common that when workers are in an illegal strike violence may arise and innocent employees who are not part of the strike may get injured,” Ngcobo said.

She said a Labour Court interdict is being enforced and disciplinary action will be instituted against the striking workers.

Ngcobo maintained that all the customer service functions, such as providing statements, information on accounts and payments were being done at the weekend.

She said management is due to meet with the workers again this week.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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