French worker fired for refusing to shut off water for poor families

April 19, 2013 at 1:37 PM
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AVIGNON, France, April 19 (UPI) -- A worker for a French wate-supply company said he was fired for refusing to shut off water for people who couldn't afford to pay their bills.

The man, identified only as Mark, said he was let go by Veolia Eau in Avignon after 20 years on the job in an April 4 letter citing his "refusal to implement the cutoffs following the non-payment of bills," The reported Friday.

Mark said he wanted to give people without the means to pay their bills more time before shutting off their water.

"I saw people who had nothing, living with their children, who begged me not to cut off the water supply and to give them a little more time to pay up," he said. "It could happen to anyone. You have to make a choice -- either feed the children or pay the bills. These big companies pocket the money and redistribute it to their shareholders, without looking after their clients or employees. It's scandalous."

The CGT trade union is supporting the worker. It said he refused to cut off the water for about 1,000 families.

Veolia defended the decision to fire the worker, saying families with low income have other options when they can't pay their bills on time.

"The families in difficulty can contact social services, which under law can pay for all or part of the bills," Veolia spokesman Bruno Challion said.

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