When former Tim Hortons employee Amanda Stratton experienced uniform allowance reductions and benefit cuts after a minimum wage hike in 2004 — no one came to her aid.
Stratton worked at a London-area Tim Hortons in 2004 when the province saw its first minimum wage increase since a freeze between 1995 and 2004.
That's why the labour activist was happy to see a crowd of 40 lined up outside of Tim Hortons at Richmond and Dundas Streets on Wednesday, in support of employees affected by the 2018 minimum wage hike.
"We experienced a similar series of increases [in the minimum wage]… There was just in general a lot of hostility toward the employees," she said. "It means a lot to me now to see the labour movement supporting all workers."
The Ontario Federation of Labour, the Workers' Action Centre and local labour groups organized rallies across the province, protesting actions by some Tim Hortons franchisees that began to eliminate workers' paid breaks, reduce access to basic drug and dental benefits and cut hours.
The abrupt changes happened after Ontario's minimum wage jumped from $11.60 per hour to $14 per hour on January 1. It's set to increase to $15 per hour in January 2019.
Pressure is on
The rally on Wednesday in London was dubbed "Forget Your Double-Double."
Organizer Patti Dalton, president of the London and District Labour Council, said the negative fallout from the hike is 'shameful.'
"We fought hard to make sure workers got a raise to the minimum wage, and also that they got more protections in the workplace. We are outraged that these workers are being treated unfairly," she said.
"We are just going to keep pressuring them unless we make sure they're treating their workers fairly."
Representatives from unions including Unifor, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Service Employees International Union raised flags and signs on Wednesday.
Dalton said the rallies are meant to put pressure on the Tim Hortons parent company — Restaurant Brands International — to ensure workers are being paid and treated fairly.
She's encouraging affected employees to receive help and guidance from the Workers Action Centre hotline.
Activists are handing out leaflets outside the Tim Hortons at Richmond and Dundas Streets in support of people who have been affected by the province’s decision to increase minimum wages.— @CBCLondon
It’s dubbed “Forget your Double-Double” #ldnont pic.twitter.com/Yq4P6XqR6W