Labour activists will picket a Dundas Tim Hortons, launch website for wage complaints

Local union activists are planning an information picket at a Dundas Tim Hortons Wednesday as they try to offer support to minimum wage workers.

Website promises workers a secure place to anonymously complain actions taken by their employers

The Hamilton and District Labour Council plans an information picket at a Tim Hortons. The corporation has been under scrutiny since some franchisees reportedly cut paid breaks to accommodate Ontario's higher minimum wage. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Local union activists are planning an information picket at a Dundas Tim Hortons Wednesday in support of minimum wage workers they say are facing clawbacks from franchise owners.

Labour activists have also set up a website promising workers a secure place to anonymously complain about actions taken by their managers and franchise owners in the wake of minimum wage legislation. The site is called "What my Boss Did."

The Hamilton and District Labour Council will hold a demonstration called "Stand Up for Tim Hortons Employees." The picket comes after the council heard second hand that workers at 38 York Rd. are losing their paid breaks since minimum wage increased in Ontario, said president Anthony Marco.

The council hasn't substantiated this. CBC News contacted the franchise, to try to do so and a woman who identified herself as the manager said she'd been instructed not to comment.

She referred questions to Tim Hortons corporate headquarters, which hasn't responded to CBC calls.

Some Tim Hortons franchises have cut benefits and paid breaks because of the higher minimum wage. We talk to a long-time Tim's worker about why she quit her job, and a labour researcher about the response from businesses. 13:02

But Marco said there are similar stories everywhere, so this is a chance to raise awareness.

"We've heard it was going on all over the place, but it's hard to find any evidence of it," he said. But "we want to call attention to franchise owners doing this."

Tim Hortons has been under scrutiny this month since a Cobourg, Ont., franchise eliminated paid breaks after Ontario increased the minimum wage.

As of Jan. 1, minimum wage increased $2.40 per hour to $14 per hour. 

Jacqueline Hansen reports on how some small businesses are handling the Ontario minimum wage increase 5:45

CBC News learned the Cobourg franchise owners are Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce. The former is the son of Ron Joyce, who founded the chain in Hamilton in 1964. The latter is Tim Horton's daughter.

The Oakville-based corporate giant 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."

A Tim Hortons franchise in Cobourg made national headlines by cutting breaks and other incentives for employees and blaming it on the minimum wage increase. We talk to a labour expert on what that means for the company's image. 5:03

But the number of franchises reportedly making cuts has grown. One franchise in St. Thomas, Ont., told employees they'd have to pay for their own uniforms, which cost between $90 and $100. 

Marco said these moves are unfair and unnecessary. The picket aims to demonstrate that, he said.

The Ottawa labour council has also established a "minimum wage bully hotline." 

As for Wednesday, the picket will happen at 5 p.m.

"We invite anybody to come out," Marco said.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

With files from Aaron Saltzman

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