Panic Sets in at Market Basket HQ?

Market Basket’s new management has issued an ultimatum for employees to return to work by Aug. 4. The Eagle-Tribune newspaper also reported it has accepted advertising from the chain for a Job Fair to replace workers who refuse.

Employees, however, argue they have not stopped working.

“How do they plan on filling positions that are already filled? The employees have been working, protesting on their own time. What is there in this that they do not understand? Employees are working, customeres are not buying. Very simple,” one employee wrote on the Facebook page, “Save Artie T & Save Market Basket!” Another writer agreed, “What they don’t understand is that we… at store level… are still working! There’s no customers for us to ring up or food to stock but we’re still there!”

The ultimatum from co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch reads:

“We want Market Basket associates back to work and reiterate that they can return without fear of penalty. We again acknowledge and understand how difficult this situation has been for associates. However, we also need to have associates working to support stores, customers and vendors. We need associates to return to work on Monday August 4th. We understand that some associates may choose not to return, consequently we will begin advertising for employment opportunities. Our hope and strong preference is to have Market Basket’s incredible associates return to work. Again, any associate that wants to return will be welcomed and not penalized.”

According to reports, the Job Fair takes place from Aug. 4 to Aug. 6 at Market Basket’s IT computer center, 340 Ballardvale St., Andover. The first two days are for any current employees to change jobs or seek promotions.

Some employees suggested subscribers urge newspapers not to accept the advertising.

“Maybe people who subscribe to their local papers should e-mail them, as customers, *politely* requesting they NOT accept or publicize any such advertising,” one worker wrote.

Meanwhile, there have been no confirmed reports regarding former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas’ offer to purchase the little more than half of the company he doesn’t already own.