Some employees of Victory Liner, Inc. –one of the country’s largest provincial bus operator – are the latest casualties of the economic fallout resulting from the months of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a phone interview, Victory Line operations manager Alex Briones said the bus company is laying off 309 probationary employees and 100 “older employees” that were optionally retired.
“This is the first time in 75 years that this happened. In all those years wala naman tayong layoffs na ginawa. This only means na meron talaga tayong economic problem,” Briones told GMA News Online.
Likewise, he said that the bus company is struggling financially since all of the 1,200 bus units in its fleet are all acquired through loan and it will have to keep paying for its loaned assets even if its not earning.
Bus companies were forced to cease operations when the government placed the entire Luzon under lockdown since mid-March.
The company secured a special permit to serve routes in Olongapo, Sta. Cruz, and Iba in Zambales. But this is not enough to keep Victory Liner financially afloat since only 22 bus units are operating.
Nevertheless, Briones said the terminated probationary employees all got their last month’s worth of salary while the early retired employees were given 100% retirement packages.
He added that when the situation normalizes and the company gets back to its feet, they will give priority to rehire the laid-off workers.
The company, however, may lay off even more workers in the next couple of months as it expects more losses from the government’s policy on public transportation such as the 50% load capacity and implementation of cashless payment transaction.
“If ever the government will put the changes doon sa cashless transaction, ‘yun ang mabigat sa amin kasi matatanggalan ng trabaho ang konduktor niyan eh. Ang konduktor namin ang population niyan nasa 1,000,” Briones said.
The company will also have to set aside more money to comply with modifications in order to meet minimum requirements of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.
Briones said Victory Liner will have to streamline its 3,300-strong workforce to keep the firm financially afloat.
Victory Liner serves routes in Central and Northern Luzon. —LBG, GMA News