'We have to fight': Workers at Winnipeg Tim Hortons location locked out after wage dispute, union says

Several staff members from a Winnipeg Tim Hortons location picketed with signs at the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street Friday with signs saying they've been locked out by their employer.

Unionized workers at Lombard location want 30 cent per hour raise; store owner offered 20 cents, union says

A Tim Hortons cup is shows in this 2014 file photo. Employees at the chain's Lombard Avenue location voted to unionize in July 2017, joining 35 workers at the Portage Avenue and Wall Street location. The Lombard workers staged a demonstration Friday, saying their employer locked them out. (Ben Nelms/Bloomberg)

Several staff members from a unionized Tim Hortons location picketed at the corner of Winnipeg's Portage Avenue and Main Street Friday, with their union saying they were locked out following failed negotiations.

The union, Workers United Canada, tweeted a photo of workers and people protesting in solidarity, holding signs that read "Locked out" and "Tim Hortons Lombard Workers Wanting a Fair Wage Increase."

'We have to fight," said Karandeep Singh, a baker at the Lombard Avenue Tim Hortons. 

"I'm just waiting for them to increase the money in our wages and I'm not sure what I'm going to do."

Andy Spence, western representative for Workers United, told CBC the workers deserve more.

"They definitely want to make sure that we are fighting for their rights," he said.

"We are doing everything we can to get the support back at the table and asking for the proper wage increase, and a very fair wage increase."

The Lombard Avenue Tim Hortons is located in the underground mall beneath the busy intersection.

Fifteen staff at the location voted to unionize with Workers United in July 2017. They were the second group of staff from a Winnipeg Tim Hortons franchise to unionize since 2015.

The lockout comes after failed bargaining negotiations this fall, said Spence.

Staff at the unionized Tim Hortons location make $11.75 per hour. That's now 10 cents above minimum wage in Manitoba, following a 30 cent per hour increase last fall to bring the minimum to $11.65.

"Our wage is already near to minimum wage," said Singh. "In today's world, it's going to be not possible for us to survive."

Collective bargaining agreements at the two unionized shops expired Oct. 1.

The Lombard location workers were seeking a wage increase of 30 cents an hour, but Spence said the franchise owner offered a raise of 20 cents an hour.

The workers recently voted 95 per cent in favour of striking, said Spence, and the union and staff were notified two weeks ago of a lockout that would begin Jan. 3.

The last collective agreement with the franchise owner in 2017 included a wage increase of 30 cents per hour, Spence said.

"We feel that that can be achieved again during this process and we had let them [the franchise owner] know that," Spence said. "Instead of coming to the table, they've locked out employees."

The Lombard Tim Hortons remained opened Friday. A person who answered the phone said they were a manager, and said they couldn't speak about the lockout.

Spence said the franchise owner recently hired three new staff who have not joined the union, though he said it isn't clear whether they are against joining.

"Hopefully they will see that this is pretty important for them," said Spence.

Spence also believes the franchise owner hired replacement workers who are filling in the gaps currently left by the locked-out unionized workers.

When contacted by CBC, a representative of Tim Hortons said the restaurant remains staffed and is "operating normally," but couldn't provide further comment.

"This Tim Hortons location is operated by an independent franchisee who is responsible for all employment and labour matters," the spokesperson said in an email.

CBC News has contacted the franchise owner for comment.


Bryce Hoye


Bryce Hoye is a multi-platform Manitoba journalist covering news, science, justice, health, 2SLGBTQ issues and other community stories. He has a background in wildlife biology and occasionally works for CBC's Quirks & Quarks and Front Burner. He won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award for a 2017 feature on the history of the fur trade. He is also Prairie rep for outCBC.

With files from Rachel Bergen