The Grey Chronicles


125 Days of NSW

Today is the 125th day of No Scheduled Work [NSW] for most employees at GSPI. Personnel are getting wary of the difficult times ahead.

Today also marks the 100th day that we haven’t received our 13th-Month Pay which was due to have been released prior to Christmas.

With the Holy Week beginning yesterday, I am guessing that we will have the bleakest Good Friday this year. For Filipinos, when one say Mukhang Bieyernes Santo [Looking like a Good Friday] it’s as though the world that we know came to its end and no visible light ahead can be seen in sight. This is the feeling of most of us, who have only rendered a total of almost a month for each personnel for the past four months.

And it seemed that there is no clear direction as to what the company will be in the near future. Several personnel have already looked for alternative jobs or applied for overseas assignments.

The plant fell silent in the middle of March after processing a minuscule order from local customers. From that time till now, the plant is deafeningly silent with only at most seven to nine persons are on duty on the operations side.

For some weeks now, the Indians have not been visible inside the plant. There were some talks among the ranks that in this Holy Week, most expats are planning for a much needed Rest and Recreation [R&R] in Boracay, a famous beach resort somewhere the Mindanao Sea.

A number of us questioned from what toil have they deserved a R&R? At least they can afford to do that! Bringing along their families, they can spend at least some time to reflect on what had they really built in this part of the world! As they have said it again and again: money is no object. Unfortunately, this is only true to those who can afford it.

In contrast, most of the local employees out-of-work and with mouths to feed are finding ways to make ends meet. But with the personnel salaries last March given on installment basis, I really wonder whether the expats are being true to their Culture of People, once published during the early days of acquisition. Or is this Culture of People only applicable to them?

I also cannot help but wonder that with all the supposedly new management technologies put in place—Six Sigma, Total Productive Maintenance, among others— the crown jewels of the distant Ispat brought to make the company bought from the Philippine banks in 2004 truly helped in making it profitable and sustainable. Where the heck did the synergy went?

Some of us are even questioning now whether with the all-out implementation of several management technologies one after another proved to be financially draining. Added to that, the constant influx of expats at most swelled to more than 50 individuals and their families during the first two years of acquisition, plus the fact that they were mostly paid at rates far beyond the local employees and given all the other privileges the company could hardly afford later, were also taxing to the fledgling resurrection. There were times in the past that a resignation of one expat was replenished with two or three more expats, with their respective families following them here months thereafter.

In spite of all these expertise coming in, the equipment and facilities remained less operative as much-needed spare parts were hard to come by. Rehabilitation plans were stopped then resumed from square one, only to be stopped months later still because of lack of financial capability, or the vision changed due to a change in company leadership. Circumventing standard procedures or chronological processes became the name of the game. Local employees make do whatever they can because the powers-that-be wanted to operate this or that equipment even without the necessary parts. Then when all efforts failed, they blamed the makeshift revisions, yet nothing came of it. Although there were efforts to salvage a dire situation, but operating on a tight budget, the problem remained and constantly create much bigger problems.

Furthermore, with customer orders seemingly coming in trickles if not droplets attended by mostly expats in Marketing and Sales, many local employees have since resigned their positions from that department because of conflicting directions, irreconcilable differences or better offers from other employers.

Even the ISO certification is seen today as a too-late-the-hero. Incidentally, why would a company do a SWOT analysis when the global economic crises have already reached the company’s gates? Had nobody seen the impending crisis months before? Or have we lost touch of the past that we have not heeded its lessons? Some of us even blamed it on Feng Shui! Huh?!?

Yet, some of us can still afford to be on vacation and gallivant among the sands of a famous beach? Never mind if the others are writhing in stomach pangs.

I distinctly remembered these words:

“Our vision is not restricted just to get NSC operational. The real challenge lies in its growth, debottlenecking trapped capacities and challenging the limits of it’s mills up to two million tons per annum successfully, within the shortest schedule, unbundling the knowledge and latent talent of its employees.” (The Philippine Star, 2004)

Is that vision still alive?


The Philippine Star (2004). Rebirth of National Steel Corp. a landmark event. Manila: The Philippine Star, 08 February 2004. Speech delivered by India’s Ispat Group chairman Pramod Mittal during the inauguration of the National Steel Corp. plant in Iligan City on Feb. 3, 2004. back to text

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