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'No Coffee! No Doughnuts!', protests held at Tim Hortons

Last Updated Jan 10, 2018 at 10:11 pm EDT

570 NEWS - Erin Anderson

Labour activists were set-up outside of multiple Tim Hortons locations on Wednesday to speak out against recent cuts in the wake of Ontario’s minimum wage increase.

Minimum wage went from $11.60 per hour to $14 at the start of the year, and some Tim Hortons franchise owners are claiming the move forced them to cut hours, reduce employees’ drug and dental benefits, and eliminate paid breaks and drink allowances.

As a result, The Ontario Federation of Labour organized nearly a dozen protests across the GTA and province. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stopped by one in Cobourg – as that franchise is owned by the children of Tim Hortons’ founders.

Almost two dozen protesters braved the cold in Guelph starting at 5 p.m. to show support for affected employees.

Janice Folk-Dawson is President of the Guelph and District Labour Council, and was handing out information pamphlets that said ‘Tell Tim Hortons: Hands off workers’ wages & benefits’.

She says the move by these franchisees doesn’t make sense when you look at Tim Hortons’ profits, and is calling the move simply – ‘UnCanadian’.

“Also when you look at how minuscule some of these savings are going to be. I mean taking away 15-minute breaks? That must be an administrative nightmare. They need to ask themselves.. if they have to make their profit off the backs of workers, is this really a viable business? And if it is, and they need to increase the revenue… they should increase the product costs – not punish workers.”

The coffee chain has released a statement condemning the choice of the franchise owners, saying employees shouldn’t be treated as an expense or to “further an agenda”.

Meantime, Chris Buckley is President of The Ontario Federation of Labour and appeared on 570’s Jennifer Campbell show on Wednesday.

He says the cuts to employee benefits and hours is simply outrageous coming from a wildly profitable multinational corporation.

“To even own a Tim Hortons, you have to be worth at least $1.5 million. There are also a number of small businesses across the province that are not even considering doing what Tims’ has done – and that’s what we find so disrespectful. We’re out today at approximately 8-10 locations across Ontario, sending a strong message to RBI.”

Buckley says they’re urging the parent company of Tim Hortons – Restaurant Brands International – to step in.

“We expect the RBI to use their muscle and influence to inform these rogue franchises that they need to pull back, get their hands out of workers’ pockets, and they need to live up to spirit of a new law which is in place as of January 1. The Ontario Federation of Labour will mobilize across the province to make sure every worker is protected under the law.”

Buckley adds that he doesn’t understand why franchisees felt these cuts were necessary, as the rise in minimum wage will help our economy, and lift over 1.5 million Ontario workers out of poverty.

“That’s a significant increase to workers, the previous wage was $11.60/hour. Now $14/hour isn’t huge, but workers sure appreciate it, and we appreciate the government took the steps for these improvements. This isn’t rocket-science, if you pay workers a decent wage – any extra income at the end of the week will be spent back in their communities. It helps build a stronger, thriving economy in Ontario. The increase in wage will generate $5-billion a year into the provincial economy, and that’s a lot. So to these rogue franchises, I’m asking you to pull back, and reinstate what you’ve taken away from workers.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour says any other workers experiencing negativity as a result of Bill 148 and the wage increase should contact the Bad-Boss-Hotline at 1-855-531-0778, and they will take action.

“Everybody has to abide by the law, we want to create the Ontario we want to live in. Over the last few decades, we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs, and what we’re left with is mostly jobs in the retail or service sector. So if that’s the kind of economy we’re going to have, workers deserve to be paid appropriately,” says Buckley.