Angry ECG Meter Readers To Abandon Work

The more than 800 officers employed by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to read its postpaid meters across the country, commonly called Meter Readers/Bills Distributors, are planning to lay down their tools over poor conditions of service.

The decision by the officers, who are mainly contract staff of the company, has become necessary after several pleas to management to adjust their paltryGH₵1,000 monthly salaries have yielded no result.

Interestingly, they are also not entitled to any allowances like transport, medical bills and provident fund, a situation they lamented has demoralized them for years.

According to the field officers, after weeks of leading the company’s ongoing taskforce on empty stomach because their salaries are not enough to retrieve millions of debts from customers, management is still adamant and not willing to address their issues of poor conditions of service.

What has further deepened the anger of the workers is a threat they received from the managing director (MD) of ECG, Samuel Dubik Masubir Mahama, cautioning them to practically shut up from talking to the media, else the outcome of what would happen will be “unpleasant.”

The MD, after a series of publications by The Anchor revealing the plights of the workers, hurriedly sent a WhatsApp message to the chairman of the Meter Readers Union, Isaac Kofi Osei, to caution their members.

The message, which has been intercepted by The Anchor, reads, “Osei, pls tell your colleagues to follow the company’s guidelines to seek redress else the outcome won’t be pleasant. Good morning. Thx.”

Interestingly, the issue of poor conditions of service for these meter readers has been common knowledge to management and has been on the table for years without any attempt to tackle it, even before the current MD was appointed and briefed subsequently.

PUWU Meeting

At a recent meeting with the leadership of the Public Utilities Workers’ Union (PUWU) at the TUC head office in Accra, the executives of meter readers made their positions clear that, if nothing is done about their issues, their next step cannot be predicted, even if it will take them to the state house.

The Anchor is informed that, the meter readers union has made PUWU understand that if they did not hear any positive outcome from them by end of this April or so, they will advise their rank and file not to commence Cycle 5.

But they were told to exhaust all steps because going on strike at this time will not be the ideal decision, but PUWU will engage management and get back to them.

They also demanded that they give them an ultimatum, but that was not undertaken.

“We have told them we know they have the power to turn our situation on ground if they want to. If they can speak the president will listen to them and act on it when it can to the issue if the JSU and SSU, Why not use the same power to get the issues if meter readers? We joined them for one reason…ie to get better conditions of service for our people and permanent employment and nothing else, so if that is not forth coming, then, what do we stand to gain? Therefore, we are entreated them to get this issue resolved as fast as possible,” a source within the leadership said.

Poor Treatment

Earlier, The Anchor reported the state-owned Electricity Company of Ghana readers of its postpaid meters across the country are not paid well, as many had been receiving a paltryGH₵1,000 as salaries for years without any increments.

According to sources, the conditions of service for these officers are so bad that some have had to borrow money from families and friends in order to go to work, without any effort by management for redress.

“You are under this scorching sun from Monday to Saturday and when you are sick you are to pay your hospital expenses from the meager salary they pay you, you are not entitled to anything, in fact nobody cares about you and your welfare yet you are expected to work hard,” one of the contract staff complained.

This paper is reliably informed that there are some who have been engaged as meter readers and have been working for 24years, 15 years and eight years now, but have not received any salary increment since.

This revelation, insiders told The Anchor, accounted for the inability of the company to properly recover millions of electricity power consumed by customers leading to huge sums of revenue going down the drain.

The MD, Samuel Dubik Mahama, in a recent interview, disclosed that the ECG presently has about 800 officials reading over 2.5 million postpaid meters, covering all the regions it supplies power to.

This category of workers, who are largely contract staff of the state power distributor, told The Anchor there is no motivation in the work they do, in spite of the sacrifices and risks involved.

According to this paper’s information, the issue has been in existence under all successive governments, as all efforts to get management of ECG for adjustment have been unsuccessful.

Some of the officers who have been speaking to this paper on condition of anonymity described their situation as disheartening.

They said, “When the dog is hungry while he goes after a prey after getting hold of the prey the hungry dog wouldn’t bring the prey to his master but will quickly feed on the captured prey without the master knowing.”

According to them, “These 800 meter readers are paid peanuts and can hardly survive. Transportation fares are at the roof, prices of food items have gone up over 200%, but the meter reader cannot even get management to give us a listening ear.”

Another officer also disclosed, “Boss, there is more to the story. As for our conditions of service it’s very sad. No training, no risk allowance, no medical allowance, provident fund, nothing. Your health issues all do not concern anybody.”

He also corroborated that, some of their members have lost their lives and left behind their wives and kids, but without any support or package for the family.

“Can you believe that some have been on contract for 24years? Yes, contract not permanent and you are not entitled to anything…Hmmm boss, we are over 800, I’m a meter reader. I’ve been on contract for eight years and receives GH₵1,000, not a transport fare to transport the bills to the customers,” another officer alleged.

They stated that, anytime they complained about their situation their superiors would tell them that their engagement is a contract and everything is inclusive.

They are, therefore, pleading with management to do something about their conditions of service to motivate their work.

Meanwhile, even though many have viewed the 800 postpaid meter reading officers as woefully inadequate and unacceptable, the MD, who was appointed last year, says much has not been done under the circumstances because the resources to hire more hands are unavailable.

The company, he said, is also unable to increase the number of these meter readers to an appreciable level, because it does not want to overburden the government.

“ECG has 2.5 million postpaid customers and 800 meter readers. So, clearly you know that the business model is what is wrong. Where do you pay them from? It has to be at the cost to the state. There should be a balancing act. Don’t get me wrong, postpaid systems are not bad if you have the right processes of reading them and making sure that the bills are churned out constantly and the people follow up to pay, believe you me, it is a good system to have,” the MD said.

Mr. Mahama, who said this during an in-studio interview on Accra-based Joy FM’s morning show on Monday, March 20, 2023 and monitored by The Anchor, said that, this and other reasons, is pushing the company, to embark on its recently announced massive revenue mobilization exercise.

Many have wondered how a paltry 800 officers would effectively read about over2.5million postpaid meters and mobilize enough revenues for ECG.

Some have pointed to this as one of the reasons the company has been inefficient for years and always relying on tariff increments to stay in business.

More To Come…


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