Pato blames drivers for rising cost of staff meals

Saturday, July 31st, 2021 00:41 |

During the last Trulogic board meeting, directors put CEO Ben and Harry Katumba, the Finance Manager, on the carpet regarding the unprecedented 30 per cent increase on the cost of staff meals.

Since the two did not have a convincing explanation, they were requested to investigate and report on the matter in the next meeting. Trulogic had two cafeterias, a main one for staff members and the public, and another for senior managers.

Staff members, excluding drivers, paid Sh250 for a lunch buffet while outsiders coughed Sh500. Drivers took the lunch free of charge on production of a stamped meal voucher.

Senior managers paid Sh750 per day which covered both lunch and break teas and coffee. Before the board interrogated the cost of staff meals, a number of conspiracies were in circulation.

One of them was that the delivery van that carried Trulogic’s foodstuffs would first drop some at Ben’s residence at Karen enroute to the company kitchen store.

Some cliques of employees knew that Pato was privy to the scandal but kept quiet for fear of victimisation. His delivery van, the one “owned” by his spouse, had been awarded the foodstuffs transportation tender.

Employees, like Pato, who were critical of the company’s procurement procedures suspected that the responsible department had inflated the cost of foodstuffs. Under the guise of Covid-19 which disrupted the supply chain, it was possible to accept quotations that were even triple the prevailing foodstuffs market prices.

To rule out this allegation, the auditors would require credible market information which may not have been captured. The third theory was that drivers were selling their free meal vouchers to outsiders who used them to take lunch at the main cafeteria.

For a lunch serving worth Sh500, drivers pocketed Sh200 for the meal voucher making the cafeteria lose Sh500. Other drivers exchanged their meal vouchers with staff members at Sh100 for lunch worth Sh250. In this illicit transaction, the cafeteria also lost Sh250.

Hence, the cafeteria spent more on producing food compared to the money they received when serving it to both internal and external customers. Senior managers were not spared on the meals saga.

A few managers, Pato being one, had accumulated debts over meals taken on credit until they no longer visited the senior managers cafeteria. Instead, they carried food from home which they stored in a fridge at the common office kitchen.

Food thefts from the fridge had been reported to HR but nobody had been caught red-handed. Pato on Tuesday at 3pm held a meeting in the mini-hall with 25 drivers on the sale of meal vouchers.

The drivers who were used to the practice put their foot down. One of them argued that: “The meals are a benefit to us. It is us who are forgoing the meals. Why should this worry management?” Pato tried to explain how the practice had increased the cost of staff meals but his arithmetic fell on deaf ears.

One driver who was not engaged in the meal vouchers deal said: “Those who sell the vouchers are spoiling our names. We have been nicknamed ‘nil lunch drivers’, in short NLD. Management should look for a way of curbing the sale of meal vouchers instead of engaging us to provide solutions which we do not have.”

Pato said that he believed in drivers’ participation in making decisions that would affect them. In the discussions, no driver dared to bring up the conspiracies that were being peddled around on the high cost of meals.

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