Tim Hortons in crisis

Employees at an Ontario Tim Hortons owned by the children of the chain’s founders say they have been told to sign a document acknowledging they are losing paid breaks, paid benefits, and other incentives as a result of the province’s minimum wage hike.

Besides losing paid breaks, the document states workers with more than five years of service will have to pay 50 per cent of the cost of benefits, and employees with between six months and five years service will have to pay 75 per cent.

An employee with more than five years service told that prior to this, their benefits were covered 100 per cent by the company.

In addition to the demonstrations at nine separate Toronto locations planned throughout the day, rallies are expected in London, Guelph, Ottawa, Peterborough, Windsor, Dundas and Cobourg

Union Canada activists are out at Tim Hortons locations across Ontario protesting unfair benefit cuts by the company in response to the province’s recent minimum wage increase.

Demonstrators from various Ontario labour unions turned out to Tim Hortons locations in an effort to pressure franchises to reverse cuts to employee benefits implemented in response to the province’s minimum wage increase.

UFCW Canada activists joined with workers, unions, and community groups at several Tim Hortons locations across Ontario to call out the company’s benefit cuts and bullying of workers in response the province’s recent minimum wage increase. Read more

“We expect every business in Ontario to live up to the spirit of the law,” said Chris Buckley, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, an umbrella group that represents some 54 unions.

The OFL organized the rallies in solidarity with Tim Hortons workers who have lost a host of benefits and perks this year, after minimum wage in the province increased to $14.

“That was a big benefit for the people who work at Tim Hortons, because it’s not a great paying job,” said the employee, who said they were making $13 an hour prior to the minimum wage hike.

“The benefits are what kept me there. Now you are going to make me pay that.

“I don’t understand why you can take it away. Sounds like you are penalizing your staff because the government is trying to help your staff,” they said.

Employees are also losing incentives for working on their birthday and for working six months without taking a sick day.

15-year-olds, and I feel they should be taking the letter home to their parents to read before they sign anything,” they said.

Another employee said that with unpaid breaks and having to pay 50 per cent of the cost of benefits, their biweekly paycheque will actually be $51 dollars lower than it was before the minimum wage hike.

“People are talking about boycotting their stores, and saying ‘I’ll go to another [Tim Hortons], but I won’t go to that one,'” said Pickersgill.

Public backlash to the move has been swift, with some would-be customers boycotting the iconic coffee shop on social media with actions like No Timmis tuesdays, in which some Tim Hortons regulars posted photos of purchases from the chain’s competition with messages of support for workers.

Almost all of Tim Horton restaurants in Canada are independently owned and operated by small business Owners who are responsible for handling all employment matters, including all policies for benefits and wages, for their restaurants.”

“Restaurant Owners are expected to comply with all applicable laws and regulations within their jurisdiction.”

Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Tim Hortons, has said the decision to pass costs onto employees were made by “rogue” franchisees and does not reflect the “values” of the business. Individual franchises told CBC News that they’ve been forced to cut benefits because head office will not allow an increase in prices.

The Great White North Franchisee Association, which represents half of Canadian Tim Hortons franchisees, said the minimum wage hike and other changes to the province’s labour laws will cost the average franchisee $243,889 a year

The association said it hoped RBI would lower supply costs or raise prices. When it did not, the association said, many franchisees were “left no alternative but to implement cost saving measures in order to survive.”

Buckley said that he’s personally reached out to RBI chief executive Daniel Schwartz to “give him an opportunity to correct this situation.

After days of public and government outrage stemming from policies introduced by Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri Horton-Joyce, the children of the company’s billionaire co-founders, at their two Coburg, Ont., locations, the coffee chain’s Canadian headquarters called the franchisees’ actions “reckless” and “completely unacceptable.”

A statement from Tim Hortons released on Friday said the cuts “do not reflect the values of our brand, the views of our company or the views of the overwhelming majority of our dedicated and hardworking Restaurant Owners” and that staff “should never be used to further an agenda or be treated as just an ‘expense.”

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