TORONTO — The Ontario Federation of Labour and the Fight for $15 and Fairness have organized a series of protests outside Tim Hortons restaurants in more than 15 communities across southern Ontario in response to individual franchise owners cutting employee benefits to offset Ontario’s minimum wage hike.
The Ontario Tim Hortons locations targeted for protest include those in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor, Guelph, London and Peterborough.
According to a media advisory on the Fight for $15 and Fairness website, when Ontario upped the province’s minimum wage to $14 an hour, “many Tim Hortons stores immediately began to eliminate workers’ paid breaks, reduce access to basic drug and dental benefits, eliminate uniform and drink allowances, and even cut employees’ hours of work. This is outrageous coming from a hugely profitable multinational company.”
The group which seeks to pressure the Ontario government to introduce major improvements to provincial labour laws, states that since the Tim Hortons corporation dictates virtually every detail of the franchise-owner’s business practice, “It’s clear the parent corporation has the power to fully restore workers’ wages, benefits and working conditions.”
In an open letter to Restaurant Brands International (RBI) Inc. CEO Daniel Schwartz, The Ontario Federation of Labour president, Chris Buckley says “as Chief Executive Officer of Restaurant Brands International Inc. — the parent company of Tim Hortons — you take the immediate steps required to ensure that Tim Hortons franchise owners respect the spirit of, as well as comply with, labour laws in Ontario. It is our view that this can only occur with the full restoration of wages, paid breaks and benefits to the workers at Tim Hortons restaurants across your entire chain.”
The letter hints at other actions that will be taken if nothing is done to restore benefits and ensures that franchise owners comply with previous labour practices, such as the payment of shift premiums for overnight shifts and allowing servers the ability to receive tips instead of forcing workers to remit them to the owner of the franchise. “We will be relentless in our efforts to draw attention and will continue to be critical of the predatory labour practices at Tim Hortons Restaurants across Ontario,” the statement reads.
In a news release on Jan. 5, Tim Hortons stated that the recent actions of cutting benefits were “by a few restaurant owners, and the unauthorized statements made to the media by a ‘rogue group’ claiming to speak on behalf of Tim Hortons, 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.”
“While our restaurant owners, like all small business owners, have found this sudden transition challenging, we are committed to helping them work through these changes. However, Tim Hortons team members should never be used to further an agenda or be treated as just an ‘expense.’ This is completely unacceptable.”