There has been a near mutiny at the office over tea, which has sent the HR team and the CEO into a panic. It started in March when the CEO formed the LEAN committee to look at the ways we can reduce spending.
I find these things a complete waste of time since we all know that if we reduce the number of expats and their benefits we can save a lot of money.
Most of those nominated to join the team were very excited because such initiatives give visibility and help improve someone’s rating. Lucy was on the committee and every day she would come and give me a status update on deliberations. She said in the early days some of the members suggested that we “halt the office modernisation project”.
This is really a brainchild of the CEO who has been saying we need to change our offices so that they look “hip and modern”.
I have been hearing murmurs on the corridors with people wondering how come we are spending so much money even when the business is doing badly.
Lucy told me that the LEAN committee debated the issue but no one felt compelled to share this news with the CEO.
The feeling was that since the project is the boss’ ‘baby’ it would be career suicide to suggest it is terminated.
So, the team came up with ideas such as reducing the newspapers on offer, changing the service provider for cleaners. I do not know what made them imagine that it might be a good idea to stop offering free tea and bread to staff — I am told they said that this would yield Sh2 million in savings.
On Monday, staff showed up early to the office to discover that they could not have their usual breakfast of a cup of tea and two slices of bread. I am told that a few people went to the HR and asked them to explain to them what was happening, and a manager responded with “we are now in cost-cutting mode”.
Lucy told me that a few days later the chair of the staff council requested to see the CEO.
In all honesty, I have never thought much of the staff council. In my view, all they do is mobilise people to fundraise and attend staff weddings and funerals.
According to Lucy, the chair informed the CEO that he needed to reinstate the tea or else he would face repercussions. The CEO explained to him the rationale for the cost-cutting to which the chair said, “If you want to cut costs look elsewhere not our tea”.
The next two days were relatively quiet but on the third day, we arrived at the office to find some TV crew at the gate. They were demanding to speak to the CEO about “allegations of abuse of human rights in the office”. I found this very hilarious because after an hour the CEO had to come out and explain why he was denying staff their basic right to tea.
By lunchtime, the story was all over Twitter and the radio stations and I could see some activists making some statements demanding that @Matiang’i takes action against our CEO.
I have never seen our CEO so disoriented and confused. He did not know what to do and he quickly restored the supply of tea and bread but not before muttering under his breath “I do not understand these people”.
Contrary to my assumption, I was told that the leakage to the media was not done by the chair of the staff council.
People are still guessing on which staff member might have hung out the CEO to dry.
Whatever the case the boss is very unhappy because he has been featuring in all the media outlets as the stingy CEO who makes a fuss about mere tea. I wonder how things will unfold.