In under 24 hours of going loud, we received our cheque from Unilever. I also wrote a letter to the CEO and Chairman, Mr. Ehsan Malik. The fact that we suddenly got paid means only one thing. The CEO told someone to hand deliver a cheque to us ASAP.
A commenter on Facebook said:
Good to hear… but why must this only happen after raising a hue and cry. Even if the CEO didn’t actually know that T2F hadn’t been paid, why is their system not reviewed regularly to check and correct such errors anyway?
Here is why, according to an anonymous commenter:
Well basically they have a negative cash cycle, which means that they make all sales on cash and delay payments to creditors as much as possible – without holding much inventory. This way they have ‘your’ cash lying around, which they can use to either earn income on, or use it to do some CAPEX – without using a single penny in debt or equity. Last year, ice-cream production capacity was doubled via this way. By delaying payments to you and other people, vendors etc. they make huge investments, produce sub-standard products, with flashy marketing campaigns. And we all buy the stuff, and dream to work for such companies and the vicious cycle continues =)
This is fairly standard practise. No surprises here. Banks do it all the time, claiming to not have received remittances when they have. They use our money to get their stuff done. We are up against a system of institutionalized corporate crime with several layers of complexity. Power, greed, incompetence, allegiance to shareholders, smarminess, and whatever the bullying flavor of the day is. They do it because they can.
Getting this payment from Unilever is not a victory. It is just a small step towards taking a stand. What I dream of is a day when I can get paid for my work by sending in an invoice and receiving a cheque on the date it was promised, based on mutually agreed terms, without having to call anyone. Yes, it’s a utopian fantasy. But this is the kind of marketplace we need to create, since we certainly didn’t inherit it – thanks to decades of apathy and corruption. I don’t care what anyone else says or thinks but I am going to do what I can to agitate for change in the corporate sector.
My personal goals:
1. Follow up on the accounting systems review promised by Ehsan Malik
2. Encourage service providers to speak up when they face problems in getting their dues
3. Create a citizen-led watchdog organization to monitor corporate activities and “ethics”
If anyone would like to be a part of these efforts, please leave a comment.