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September 22, 2010

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Company on the trail of crooked workers

SHANGHAI Dazhong Gas Co is on the trail of a group of workers who asked for money from residents after accusing them of stealing gas.

A growing number of residents said they had been falsely accused of stealing gas after their meters were found to be missing a lead seal.

Residents said they were sometimes asked for a private settlement by the gas workers, who promised that by paying them several hundred yuan, they would install a new lead seal; otherwise they would report them to the company and they could be fined or even have their supply cut.

A company official, Tang Yichun, encouraged residents to record conversations with workers and report them if they asked for private settlements. Tang said the company had already punished several workers after residents had provided recordings of conversations they had made on their mobile phones.

Tang said the recordings showed how the workers threatened to cut off the gas supply unless residents paid.

"As long as residents can provide evidence showing our workers abusing their power, we will punish them immediately and give feedback to the residents," said Tang. Residents can also dial the gas hotline 962777.

But one victim, surnamed Zhang, said: "Does that mean that we have to halt the workers at the entrance, get a camera and recorder sneakily and wait for them to ask for a private settlement?"

She said residents were not in the habit of making recordings in their daily life.

Zhang said her parents, who lived on Guilin Road, had been fined 2,000 (US$298) yuan by the gas company because its workers had accused them of stealing gas due to the absence of the lead seal.

"The lead seal is now one of the main methods to check whether the residents are abusing gas," said Tang.

No one would remove it unless they wanted to modify the meter, he said.


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