I remember in Grades school when we were required to commit to memory the poem by Joyce Kilmer. You might be familiar with it:
Today, the first day of April is April Fools’ Day. Two years ago, I finally joined the commencement exercises after finishing my masters with the completion of a decade-long thesis writing. Last year, most of the posts were for private reading because of what happened in September. Maybe someday, yes, someday, these particular posts will see the light of day!
Today, even Google joined the prankters: posting a new interactive way to manipulate one’s Google Mail, unfortunately, some people I know believed it! With only six to eight days duty for each month since January, I have been writing posts but not able to posts them daily as finances are quite tight.
A month ago, there were some stories seeping into those that were rendering duty during the work rotation scheme presently ongoing in plant starting June 2010, while others tend to dismiss these stories as some wild imagining. One of these stories were the promise of Management to deal with the present situation with a plant rehabilitation plan. The Union have submitted their petition to ask Management, through the Department of Labor and Employment [DOLE], for the possibility of all workers being paid then separated from the company should definite plans to operate the steel plant by the end of March do not materialize. Management, if the Union officials were to be believed, asked for a month extension to this deadline.
Today, 01 April, is the beginning of the countdown of the management-imposed deadline. The workers are getting worried, what with the June school enrollment only two months away. One by one, a number of local-hired electrical and mechanical tenders, mostly the remnants of National Steel Corporation, included in the rotating schedule since June 2009 had begged off for exclusion in the next schedule because they found some work outside the company. Incidentally, from a 70-man strong Indian management staff in 2005, today there are only a handful of these so-called Expatriates’ Expertise helping the plant. Many saw these actions by local and expatriates as flight or as one said: leaving the war zone!
Gone were the days of optimism! Who would be an optimist when almost every month since June 2009, the notion that Management was dealing with the power situation had been recycled month after month? Whenever an expatriate was bluntly asked what was Management doing about the unpaid power debts to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines [NGCP], the usual answer given was: they are dealing with it and hopefully by next month details were ironed out regarding some deal. Was it a particular dim episode of world history where a regime continually repeated lies and the people eventually believed it was the truth?
I do not really know what Management is planning for the immediate future, i.e., two to three months from now. Even local managers are seemingly prone to believe whatever the expatriates managers are saying. Asking them the real status of the company and sometimes you get those unbelieving eyes as if you committed a mortal sin or something. Various rumors, some are either nasty while others with a tinge of truth, are circulating which I will not mention here. I have written it before: Idle and hungry people really have busy tongues!
A few minutes while writing this post tonight, I received a SMS from a colleague announcing that a team was being created to prepare something of a rehabilitation plan for the steel company. Dismissing it as a prank, it is still April Fools’ Day anyway, and probably whoever sent this news was making a practical joke out of the situation, I ignored the message.
Reviewing what had happened since 04 June 2010, only a skeleton crew of tenders were left to oversee the dim-lit steel plant. A week before the lights out, even when the ultimatum was well-known, management was optimistic that they could muscle a deadline extension by presenting to the power creditor some business plan to prove the company’s viability to profit in the preceding months. During the first month, having been a Team Leader for the Plant Facilities Preservation Team under the NSC’s Liquidator, I repeatedly asked some local managers what plans were laid to deal with the situation, but found out later that no definite long-term plans were made because of the mistaken belief by most, local and expatriates managers alike, that the no-power situation would only last a few weeks.
I, and maybe most of the steel workers, would be grateful if the supposed rehabilitation plan comes to fruition any time soon. Most of my work colleagues are getting weary and worried about the immediate future. In each day while I am on duty, six to eight days per month, almost everyone is asking the same question: Would the plant re-open? Oh, at least there are still Joyce Kilmer’s trees around the plant to cut into firewood, as most workers not included in the rotation schedule are wont to do.
Filipinos are really a hopeful people. We are also very patient. Maybe the Bahala Na attitude is kicking in high gear again. In any case, Filipinos are really happy people, they laugh out their adversity! Ha! Ha! Posts are made by fools like me, but only God could make a tree. Unfortunately, some steel workers are cutting these trees with impunity.
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