Boycotts and pickets are some of the responses to Tim Hortons franchisees stripping paid breaks and benefits to their workers.
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This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
While the critics are bloviating over how a minimum wage hike affects billionaires, it seems that some Canadians aren’t ready to get over their anger at Tim Hortons.
Last week, in response to a minimum wage hike in Ontario, some franchise owners, including the co-founders’ married children, decided to strip their workers of paid breaks and cut back their benefits. Ontario’s minimum wage jumped to $14 an hour at the beginning of the year. This jump—introduced in a November bill and seen by some as a way for Ontario Premier [head of government of a province or territory] Kathleen Wynne to gain some votes going into an upcoming election—will see wages jump to $15 an hour in 2019.
Now, in response to those actions, some Tim Hortons owners are facing down rallies and boycotts planned by labor activists and some everyday Canadians.
Most of the ire is directed at one store, located in Cobourg, Ontario in particular. This store is owned by Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce (Tim Horton’s daughter) and Ron Joyce Jr. (the son of Ron Joyce, who co-founded the chain) and was the most high profile to fuck over their employees in response to the minimum wage increase. According to Forbes, Ron Joyce Jr.’s father is worth is about $1.4 billion.
A rally is planned outside the Cobourg Tim Hortons on Wednesday and it’s not the only one. The Hamilton and District Labour Council has also decided to picket a Dundas Tim Hortons in response to the Tim Hortons that have pulled the paid breaks for their employees as well.
“This Tim Horton’s location has allegedly cut benefits and paid breaks for employees as a result of the new minimum wage laws,” reads the Dundas event page’s description. “We want to let their employees know of their right to unionize and the public to know of how such a venerated Canadian brand treats their employees.”
Even Premier Wynne got in on the action and called the actions a “clear act of bullying.” To add to that, the corporate side of the Canadian fast-food chain put out a statement saying “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 hard working restaurant owners.”
Ontario’s Labour Minister, Kevin Flynn, took everything a step further on Monday by saying that businesses taking the minimum wage hike “out on their workers” is “completely unacceptable” and “completely wrong.”
"We knew when we unveiled Bill 148 that there'd be a reaction from some businesses. The minimum wage, I don't believe ever in history, has been raised without the business community raising a fuss or concerns," Flynn said of the benefit cuts. “It's the act of bullies that have no place in this province."
Flynn also said that the government will be investigating businesses that are acting opposed to the laws after a report by the Toronto Star that a Tim Hortons in Scarborough told their employees to not keep their tips but to put them in a jar which will be taken by management at the end of the day—something that is illegal in Ontario.
On top of all the real-life pickets and possible investigations, a Tim Horton boycott called “No Timmy's Tuesday” is starting to gain support on social media. The boycott calls on Canadians to support an independent coffee chain of their choosing instead of Tim Hortons on Tuesdays.
It turns out Canadians aren’t all that polite when you steal their fucking benefits and breaks—you would think a company that purports to embody all things Canada would know that, eh?
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