Meter reader workers want permanent employment

RUNDU: Workers contracted to record water meter readings here have appealed to the Rundu Town Council to consider employing them permanently as they have been working for too long on contract basis.

The 12 workers record readings of water meters at this north-eastern town, including its informal settlements of Sauyemwa, Kasote, Kehemu, Kaisosi, Ndama and Tuhingireni.

The disgruntled contract workers approached this reporter – but preferred not to be identified – and told Nampa on Tuesday that they have been working for too long on contract basis, with some having been contracted from as early as 2003.

The workers said being on contract is disadvantaging them in many ways as they do not have medical aid, pensions, transport allowances nor Social Security benefits.

The workers furthermore claimed that they work under harsh conditions as they carried out their duties on foot, which involved walking from house to house to take readings during terribly hot conditions. They are also not provided with protective clothing such as hats and shoes.

The meter readers alleged that most meter readers in other towns are employed permanently, and questioned why the Rundu Town Council has put them on contract basis.

They stated that they are under-paid, with some claiming to be paid as little as N.dollars 1 000 per month, stressing that they are really finding the going tough as they also have bills to pay.

The workers are now planning to contact the regional Labour Office so that they could take up their grievances.

Citing as an example of the harsh conditions under which they work, one of the workers said he was bitten by a dog while recording water readings at one of the houses at the Ndama informal settlement.

He, however, had to pay for his own medical costs as they don’t have medical aid benefits.

In response, the Rundu Town Council’s Chief Executive Officer Romanus Haironga told this agency that they have outsourced water meter reading services to an entity known as the ‘Northern Auto Print Company’ to carry out the work on council’s behalf.

He furthermore stated that these workers are thus not employed by the council, and if they have grievances, they should address them to the contractor concerned.

Efforts to obtain comment from the Northern Auto Print Company’s Sackaria Elikana proved futile as he could not be reached for comment.