Displaced Ceres workers condemn firm for SEA Games Publicity Stunt

(Photo Courtesy of Bea Fabregas/CNN PH)

BACOLOD City – A group of former Ceres bus drivers and conductors denounced Vallacar Transit’s continued indifference to the plight of its employees, on the one hand, while playing magnanimous benefactor for the SEA Games, on the other.

Vallacar Transit, owner and operator of the Ceres Liner, earlier committed its resources and manpower to help transport athletes in the SEA games after a series of flops hounded the preparations.

According to the Displaced Ceres Workers Association – Iloilo (DCWA) it is ironic that while the company is not beholden by obligation to helping the SEA games, it has addressed these concerns with greater expediency and urgency than the demands of its workers.

“Ceres Liner has chosen to engage in image-enhancing PR stunts in order to divert attention from pressing labor concerns. It has committed resources to help in plugging the holes of the disastrous SEA Games organizing under the guise of goodwill, while keeping its workers impoverished,” Rolens Villegas, DCWA general secretary said.

DCWA challenged the Negros-based bus company to prove its sincerity and consistency by extending the same display of magnanimity to its employees.

During a press conference last Monday in Iloilo, DCWA had decried the company’s unfair and exploitative practices in the form of illegal dismissal through coerced resignations, non-disclosure of collective bargaining agreement, “unjust” separation pay, and illegal payroll deductions.

“We have already set our demands last November 25 in our press conference. There is no excuse for management’s continued neglect of its workers after the company has been generous toward the SEA games. If the company can spend money and resources for a publicity stunt, it should return all amounts illegally deducted for years from our payroll,” Villegas added.

Furthermore, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino – Negros echoed the sentiments of the DCWA pointing that Ceres workers, who have long suffered from years of questionable labor practices and denial of their due benefits, are now compelled by the company to extend their labor-power to drive buses for the SEA Games in the company’s attempt to solicit public favor.

Samuel Gavoro, Chairperson of BMP Negros, derided the situation saying, “If Ceres Liner truly had genuine intentions to help its countrymen, it should sit at the negotiation table with both its displaced and current workers to talk about reparations and ways to correct their exploitative labor practices.”

Furthermore, BMP Negros maintains that it is deplorable that Ceres has instrumentalized the labor of its employees within the framework of sincerity while expressly ignoring their demands for change. “The company has tasked exploited workers to work for its PR while proving unwilling to give workers what is rightfully theirs,” Gavoro adds.