Daily News Online

Wednesday, 28 March 2012



Factory Head with a swindling brain

Thiagu was a Junior Factory officer on a tea estate in the Nawalapitya district. One Sunday he was going through the vacancy column in a paper and there was a vacancy for a senior factory officer on an estate in the Rakwana district. He applied and was called for an interview. He fared well in the interview and was offered the post.

When he reported for work the Factory Officer (FO) introduced him to the factory workers as the new Senior Assistant.

While working, Thiagu noted that the Factory officer was moving freely with the workers and joking with the women workers.

The FO instructed Thiagu to supervise the Rolling Room and the withering leaf in the loft. He was barred from entering the sifting room where the teas are sifted and graded.

One day the Junior officer who used to weigh the green leaf brought to the factory was absent.

The FO instructed Thiagu to weigh the leaf and deduct six pounds from each basket. Usually only four pounds are deducted for a basket for the weight of the basket and coarse leaf. Thiagu was sorry for the workers who toiled the whole day and were hit below the belt. But he did as was instructed.

Thiagu was a senior factory officer only for name sake. It was the senior factory officer who enters figures in the Tea Book but here it was the other way. The tea book was maintained by the FO.

The tea book has several columns to mark the total weight of the green leaf taken in, the weight of the withered leaf, the weight of the dried tea, weight of each graded tea, weight of the tea sent to Colombo and the weight of the Refuse tea. Teas in each bin is also accounted for. The FO was very careful that Thiagu didn't have access to such information.

One day the FO went on leave. Before going he told Thiagu to weigh the green leaf and jot it on a piece of paper and when he (FO) returns he will enter it in the Tea Book.

In the absence of the FO Thiagu opened the three feet long Tea Book for the first time although he was here for the last six months.

In the evening Thiagu sent Velu to his quarters to bring a cup of tea. Velu is the only worker who moved closely with Thiagu.

Sipping the tea Thiagu inquired from Velu why the FO deducts six pounds from a worker when it should be only four pounds. Velu came out with the secret.

He told Thiagu that the excess two pounds is manufactured separately, packed in separate boxes and sent to Colombo along with the invoiced teas. This is done by Angamuthu employed in the sifting room. He is FO's man, Velu said.

Thiagu went through the Tea Book again. He noticed the entry was only for the deduction of four pounds and not for six pounds. He realized how the FO is playing out the estate.

The superintendent was a gentleman. He was from a respected and rich family in Colombo. He will not tolerate lying and stealing. But he relied on the teamaker. The FO when he sees the superintendent will put thousand salutes and behave as a slave. When the boss takes three days' leave he would sign the blank invoices for the FO to dispatch the made tea to Colombo. He never suspected the FO. The FO made use of such opportunities for his sordid work.

Thiagu inquired from Velu what the FO was doing with the money thus plundered.

Velu replied that the FO has a house in Colombo. His children are sent to reputed schools. To repair his house he sends cement and paint tins from the factory stores. Even factory workers are sent to Colombo to work in his bungalow on estate names. The FO was a good drinker. The chief clerk and the field officer are all in his hands. Once a week he will throw a party to them. He used to give drinks to his henchmen in the factory also. Even Velu has taken a drink from the FO. The excess two pounds of tea deducted from the tea pluckers is the cause for all such extravagance, Velu lectured.

After hearing all what Velu said Thiagu felt his blood boiling. He wanted to teach a good lesson to the FO who deceived everybody including the superintendent, involved in daytime robbery.

Velu is also one of the workers who loaded tea chests into the lorry to be dispatched to Colombo. The completed invoice was kept on the table. Thiagu who entered the factory office for something noted the invoice. The invoice showed 80 chests to be sent to Colombo. He instructed Velu to tell him how many chests were loaded that day. Velu obliged.

In the evening Thiagu went home after work. The FO's bungalow was close to the factory while Thiagu' was little further away. It was about 8.00 p.m. He heard the lorry coming and chests were being loaded. He was waiting for Velu. At about 9 p.m. Velu knocked at the door. Thiagu asked as to how many chests were loaded and Velu replied 100.

Thiagu realized that 20 more chests have been dispatched. Thiagu said 'Velu, we both run our families because of this estate. If the estate is destroyed we will also be destroyed. We could have built four or five new lines to the workers out of the money plundered by this factory officer all these years. I have made a decision. Would you help me?" he asked.

"I am ready to do anything for you" replied Velu.

"Then come with me to the superintendent's bungalow. How far the lorry would have gone now?" Thiagu asked. "The lorry would have reached Rakwana town by now," said Velu.

With the help of a torchlight they hurried to the superintendent's bungalow. The dogs started barking hearing their footsteps. Luckily they were inside the Bungalow. The watcher came running to the spot. The superintendent opened the window and when he saw Thiagu he asked "What Thiagu? Is anything urgent?"

Thiagu told his boss what had taken place.The boss immediately telephoned the Kahawatta police, gave them the lorry number and instructed them to stop the lorry, count the chests and inform him.

After a lapse of half an hour the OIC rang back and informed there were 100 chests but the invoice showed only 80.

The superintendent instructed the police to arrest the driver and the cleaner along with the lorry and the factory officer and produce them in the court. The same night the police came and arrested the factory officer.

Now Thiagu is the Head Factory Officer and Velu is the sifting Room Kangany.



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