During pre-privatized National Steel Corporation [NSC] era, most employees kept abreast of the latest news for or against the company. Many of us, including this writer, even kept soft or hard copies of these news clippings for information purposes. The NSC News, the corporate monthly publication, also published Supplements to clarify the behind-the-scenes of certain corporate issues, notable of these were the Jacinto case and NSC privatization.
When a scion of Ispat Industries Ltd. [IIL] announced their bid for NSC, as a contractual Mill-in-Charge of Plant Facilities Preservation [PFP] hired by the NSC Liquidator, I have shown my interest on this matter by clipping news articles then posting it in the makeshift PFP bulletin board. All NSC employees on duty then were on rotation-basis for only a few days per month. Majority had opted not to maintain their subscription to daily newspapers. Thus, through news clippings, colleagues were informed of the latest news about NSC.
During the first few months of Global Steelworks Infrastructure, Inc. [GSII], an incident with one of its expat-manager might have been an indication of what position the new company could take about such disclosure of corporate-related information. This expat-manager commandeered a room at Electrolytic Tinning Line No. 3 [ETL3] as his office adjacent to where the on-duty PFP Mill-in-Charge was keeping station.
During the initial two weeks, he was cordial and usually greeted the Mill-in-Charge on-duty with a smile and a handshake. One time, the expat-manager came in and was a bit surprised what the fuzz was all about. Mill tenders on-duty were crowding near the bulletin board and loudly talking about which of the offered bids for NSC was advantageous, or what would it mean personally to them. As I was the Mill-in-Charge on-duty, the expat-manager accosted me and asked for an explanation on why such news clippings were posted in the Bulletin Board for all to see. I humbly stated that it was usual practice, as described above.
Note: The following is a reconstruction of what transpired, culled from memory. The exact words said then, are somewhat muddled now, but this writer stand-by this recollection, and have witnesses to corroborate what transpired.
The expat-manager invited me in his commandeered office and started looking for a copy of some corporate memo among the jumble of papers, manuals and books, which looked like a storm had just passed. Finding none among the debris, for my benefit, he claimed that the memo contained a short list of items that were specifically ONLY allowed to be posted on all its offices, such as: straight-forward calendars (no sexy poses of alcoholic beverage endorser, he explained); the corporate logo: the red star reminiscent of Caltex (he offered to give me those logo-stickers later); official announcements, among other items. He then asked: Have you not received this memo?
Silence. I was not even aware of any memo.
No? You are not allowed to post news about the company! his voice louder than before.
This writer clarified that it was customary for NSC employees to be informed of such things.
He countered: But they can read them from newspapers, in a tone a decibel higher! In the comfort of their homes, he added.
Yes, they can, but they can’ afford such luxury in these trying times, I claimed.
You are not allowed to post such things in here!
Thinking that the seals of the bids have not been broken yet, then here is an expat-manager acting as if they already owned the company, and prematurely demanding to kowtow to their wishes, I simply replied: Sure, I can, and I will!
Irate, he shouted: You know Mr. R__? Report to him and ask about this particular memo!
Another NSC colleague, a former Mill-in-Charge of PFP then hired to assist the expat-manager, peeked in wanting to speak to the expat-manager about something. Sensing the on-going scenario, he immediately exited.
In my soft but clear voice, I said: Who is he? I do not know him! And why should I report to him? I am still hired by the NSC Liquidator as Mill-in-Charge. If you have any problems with me, you please contact my superior, the Plant Manager of NSC! I stormed out of his commandeered office and never looked back.
The next day, when we saw each other, no smile and no handshake. At least, I have been saved from shaking with a garlic-onion-marjoram-curry-smelling hand that day. I never reported to Mr. R__, who was another expat, I would found out later. The expat-manager, moreover, never complained about my actions to the NSC Plant Manager, either.
The former Mill-in-Charge of PFP assisting the expat-manager came in and asked about what happened the day before. After hearing my recollection, agreeing with my action of not reporting to Mr. R__, he offered to talk to the expat-manager to patch-up things.
Thankful for his mediation, but we—the expat-manager and me—never really did!
In retrospect, probably this particular incident was one of the reasons why this writer took a long time deciding to sign-up for a position in GSII, now known as Global Steel Philippines (SPV-AMC), Inc. [GSPI]. In all probability, was the Grey Day in September foretold?
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