BACOLOD CITY: The ongoing Ceres business dispute has claimed another “collateral damage” as 217 employees of Ceres Mart were retrenched by the company effective immediately.
The retrenchment came after management decided to close down all its 13 branches located in various Ceres Bus terminals in Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Panay.
Neil Derek Henionada, human resource officer of Ceres Mart, on Saturday said they called a meeting of all employees at their office in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City, to make the announcement.
“Almost 90 percent of our employees are breadwinners of their families and now they are the collateral damage. They are just selling bread and are not involved with the ongoing corporate dispute of the Yanson family,” Henionada added.
He said the problem has a “domino effect” on all the departments.
Many Ceres Mart employees have been working with the company for nine to 15 years when it was just a commissary for the Ceres employees, Henionada pointed out.
He said much as they tried to continue the operations “we can only do so much.”
“When we told them (employees) of the decision to stop the operations of Ceres Mart, all of them were saddened,” according to Henionada.
Annely Sina-on, mart operations manager, cited the “safety of employees” as a reason for closing the branches.
“They felt threatened when they report for work. The power and water supplies were cut off and if they enter they are not allowed to leave,” Sina-on said.
Ailyn Estores, who has worked with the company since 2005, confirmed that they received “threats.”
“We have been working here for so long and with just a click we have no work anymore. We and our products were bashed on social media. We were not allowed to ride company service buses too. We felt our human rights were violated,” she said.
Henionada said employees who were displaced will receive separation packages depending on their years of service with Ceres Mart.
Sina-on said Emily Yanson, owner of Ceres Mart, is “very saddened over the situation and for us her employees.”
“She has ordered us to look for new locations to open new branches so the rethrenched employess could be hired again,” she added.
“They will be our priority when we rise up again because we believe this is just a temporary setback,” Sina-on said.
Earlier, Olivia Yanson, matriarch of the Yanson clan that runs Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI), has ordered the ejectment of Ceres Mart from the Ceres Northbound Terminal in Barangay Bata, Bacolod City.
In an order signed by the Yanson matriarch last July 26 and addressed to her daughter, Emily, she ordered the closure of the establishment claiming that her daughter had failed to pay rent for the use of the space since the terminal opened in 2015.
“I am respectfully giving you 24 hours to vacate. This is our last and final demand,” the matriarch said.
In a statement, Ceres Mart said while they are an independent company from the Yanson Group of Bus Companies (YGBC), they have been caught in the crossfire of the ongoing management crisis.
It claimed that two days after the Yanson matriarch issued the order, the front entrance of the store was padlocked.
Ceres Mart employees also claimed that they have been constantly harassed by armed guards and supporters of the Yanson matriarch until Saturday when electricity was cut off.
“While we sympathize with all members of the YGBC family in their current situation, we cannot help but make ourselves be heard too,” the employees said in a statement.