Clawbacks to Tim Hortons breaks and benefits not okay, say London labour activists

Activists will hand out leaflets today outside the Tim Hortons at Richmond and Dundas Street at 3 p.m. today in support of employees who have reportedly lost breaks and benefits following Ontario's minimum wage increase.

Information picket to occur at Richmond and Dundas St. at 3 p.m. today

An information picket is set for the Tim Hortons at 172-174 Dundas St. at 3 p.m. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC News)

Activists will hand out leaflets today outside the Tim Hortons at Richmond and Dundas Street at 3 p.m. today in support of employees who have reportedly lost breaks and benefits following Ontario's minimum wage increase.

Although the event has been dubbed "Forget Your Double-Double," it's not a boycott, said organizer and London District Labour Council president Patti Dalton.

A boycott could make things worse for Tim Hortons employees by encouraging employers to cut back on hours, she said.

Instead, Dalton hopes the picket will put pressure on the Tim Hortons parent company, Restaurant Brands International (RBI), to ensure that their franchisees don't treat workers differently as a result of the new labour legislation.

Ontario's minimum wage increased Jan. 1, going from $11.60 to $14.00 an hour. It will increase to $15.00 an hour in January 2019.

Deena Ladd, coordinator of the Workers' Action Centre (WAC), said it's fair to expect franchisees to pay the new minimum wage while maintaining breaks and benefits.

"I haven't met a Tim Hortons franchise owner that's struggling. I think that most of them are very profitable," said Ladd, adding that if franchisees aren't receiving enough profit from RBI, that's something to be dealt with between the two parties.

"They should not be putting that at the doorstep of a minimum wage worker," she said.

Labour support across Ontario

Information pickets will also occur at more than 10 other Tim Hortons locations across Ontario tomorrow. These events are organized by WAC, the Ontario Federation of Labour and local labour groups.

Although some pickets target franchises that have reportedly clawed back on breaks and benefits, there have not yet been reports of similar behaviour by franchisees in London, said Dalton.

The Richmond and Dundas location was chosen because of its "high profile" location, she said.

Dalton encouraged Londoners to post their support for Tim Hortons employees on social media, and to ask franchise owners polite questions about how they're treating employees.

The franchise owner of the Tim Hortons at 172-174 Dundas St. did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.