The Grey Chronicles


On a Clear Day, I Could See the Grass is Taller on the Other Side?

Lately, GSPI embarked on another Initiative, the Clean and Green campaign. Why? Because bankers and visitors are coming for a look-see on the purportedly the grand opening of the Hot Strip Mill’s Plate Mill

On the day of the grand opening, complete with a visitors’ registration desk, balloons and banners, GSPI Vice-President Sangram Mohanty announced that the company wanted to export to Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia and India before the year ends.

A week prior to that, GSPI hired about ten janitorial personnel to prepare the GSPI grounds for the event. These preparations included cutting of grass and dead branches in Road A, running parallel to the National Highway; transplanting green bermuda grass to the Administration Building 2 facade, and re-illuminating, retouching of wall paint, and rolling out the literal red carpet in the Admin 2 Lobby, where the ceremonies were to be held. It looked like Imelda Marcos were covering the slums and makeshift shanties along EDSA with whitewashed walls whenever foreign dignitaries were to visit the Philippines in the 70s.

From 2004 to present, frenzied rush to clean the surroundings is usually tackled a week before such ceremonies: a bankers’ visit, Pramod Mittal’s walk or foreign auditors’ plant tour.

For all other days for the past four years, however, the grass in most of the GSPI grounds is allowed to run its growth, the trees allowed to rot its branches sometimes falling over the road, the falling leaves are left where they have fallen only to be washed away to the rain gutters whenever heavy downpour came–at least the roadway is cleared of debris then, and the Admin 2 lobby flood and ceiling lights transferred to other locations.

Inside the plant site, mountains of scraps on separate locations are competing to reach for the roof; high-bay lights, some already nearing bust-life, are sparingly or strategically placed whereby one expat fell into a manhole once, broke his leg, and blamed the absence of lights; the tattered mill roofs, sidewalls and gutters are falling piece-by-piece from the naked sky; and finished coils, scraps for disposal, and empty rolling oil drums are seemingly jumbled in disharmony in some places.

During the last visit of the TPM auditor, a carefully studied path for the Jemba walk was planned out so that the mountains of scrap was out of sight. One expat did a wonderful job, even boasted about this personal feat, of at least flattening the scrap mountain to make it a valley of scraps. Neither was the tattered mills roofs nor the flickering lights were visible.

When Pramod Mittal recently visited, a horde of expats in tow–all wanting to kiss his feet, and smell their chief benefactor–provided cover for all these things. If I were him, I would not be led where I should go: being the supposedly owner of the plant, I would seek the nooks for even a speck of dust. But just, if I were him.

The Clean and Green campaign was designed to make use of steelworkers awaiting for the availability of raw materials. When there are no steel processing in the mills, where most of the steel workers are still on duty, they do the janitorial job of cleaning their surroundings — building and grounds. The management’s argument: people cost money, and doing nothing is costlier. Thus, instead of hiring additional personnel to do the cleaning, why not employ the same steelworkers awaiting for raw materials long in coming to do the job? That’s f***ing genius!

Shouldn’t the steelworkers focus on making quality steel products, instead of wielding scythes and bolos to cut grass and clear fallen trees? Maybe, NSC pampered these steelworkers into thinking that during the good ole days, when the whole plant site had manicured lawns, flowering plants lined along the roadways, sufficiently lighted mill bays, a whole department to tackle Building and Grounds maintenance, a separate section under the operations department to transport mill-generated scrap to be melted in the Billet Steelmaking Plant; a more welcoming Admin2 Lobby; an ISOnized procedures on dealing with primes, scraps and empty drums; and a seemingly endless Production Schedule of making steel!

Lesson: Don’t judge a plant by its facade!



  1. “Haven’t you noticed that some of these scraps have turned to rust and thus not salable as “prime” scraps?” – I like the way you are thinking, Mr. Reyadel and I love your choice of words. Makes me smile at these times of ‘trouble’.

    And I am hoping my escape would yield positive results.

    Comment by d4rkhowl — 2008.November.13 @ 16:54 | Reply

  2. D4rkhowl,

    Per info from insiders, Treasure Steel no longer get their scraps from GSPI. This fact is a known tidbit since 2005. Thus, although GSPI steelworkers love to see mountains of scraps as their salaries, these scraps are not waiting to be melted at Treasure Steel, but rather they are sold to the highest bidder in international or domestic steel markets. Haven’t you noticed that some of these scraps have turned to rust and thus not salable as “prime” scraps?

    Incidentally, when you wrote: “I got to get out of here!” you mean like: “If you can’t stand the heat . . . get out of the kitchen”? Typical!

    Comment by reyadel — 2008.October.25 @ 17:20 | Reply

  3. I’m glad that you noticed and even wrote an article about it. The employees are trained to see scrap as their salary as what a certain finance officer and other managers said, ‘We will be selling metal scraps for your salary’. We love to see scraps to have our salary for the finished products’ profit are for the managers and the owners itself. For India’s glory under the Philippines’ dismay. We love to see mountains of metals pieces waiting to be smelted by Treasure Steelworks for it means the promise is warm and the future is bright.

    I’m talking irony here. Let’s get serious. It only means one thing. All of us are fools. And me myself is a big one. I am against these methods but I still continue to heed their words ‘coz I am not ready to fight alone an army of Expats and ‘Dianoy. What saddened me is we know that this is wrong yet can do nothing about it as of now. We are swimming in lies.

    …I got to get out of here!

    Comment by d4rkhowl — 2008.October.25 @ 12:55 | Reply

  4. hahaha! how true! way to go ADA!

    Comment by Tikbong Bidi — 2008.October.20 @ 08:31 | Reply

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