Former employees of insolvent Saint-Henri deli want to get paid

Former employees of Deli Sokolow, an insolvent Saint-Henri restaurant, say they are owed thousands in wages and benefits, and are demanding to be paid.

Workers say they are still owed money since the restaurant closed abruptly in November

Former server Cinder Ikeda told CBC that the group hopes to put pressure on the owners to pay wages they say they are owed. (CBC)

Former employees of an insolvent Saint-Henri restaurant say they are owed thousands in wages and benefits, and are demanding to be paid.

Deli Sokolow folded in November, and a committee representing 19 former employees says those workers were stiffed on wages and benefits totaling at least $7,000.

A handful of employees marched through Saint-Henri Sunday afternoon to call attention to their cause.

Cinder Ikeda, who worked as a server at the restaurant, told CBC that the group is trying to put pressure on the owners to pay up.

Former employees of Deli Sokolow and their supporters marched in Saint-Henri Sunday. (CBC)
"We're here mobilizing to one, demand our stolen wages from them, and our papers. And secondly to give, to let them and other employers know that this kind of treatment of their workers is unacceptable."

Ikeda added that some employees don't have documentation of their employment or their pay.

"Some employees that we're representing here were never even given paperwork or any money at all, there's no record of them ever having worked there," he said.

Deli Sokolow co-owner Shayne Gryn declined a recorded interview but said his company is presently insolvent and will soon file for bankruptcy.

He said he won't be paying workers — they'll have to make a claim under the federal Wage Earner Protection Program in order to get their money.

Conflict goes public

Deli Sokolow closed suddenly in November, and workers took to social media to air their grievances.

The committee that organized Sunday's protest posted Jan. 13 on its Facebook page, saying that, "On Nov. 21 [2016], employees showed up to locked doors, with no notice of closure, and have since not received final pay checks or Notice of Termination indemnities."

The post went on to accuse the owners of pay delays and failing to provide records of employment.

Former employees say they are collectively owed at least $7,000. (CBC)
Gryn posted a public apology in the form of a comment on the original post through the official Deli Sokolow page.

In it, he explained that the business had "operated consistently at a loss," staying open through loans.

"When an essential utility was cut on Nov. 21, 2016, we did not have enough funds to pay the balance owed, and were unsuccessful in our attempts to gain additional loans to cover it."

Workers look to Quebec Labour Board

During the demonstration, employees and their supporters stopped by Gryn's residence, chanting and holding signs.

Gryn told CBC he considered this a form of harassment.

The workers are accusing the restaurant owners of pay delays and failing to provide records of employment. (CBC)
Aside from marching, the former employees are also exercising more formal recourse. They've taken their complaint to the province's labour board, a body that can hold company directors like Gryn liable for unpaid wages.

But before they see any money, they'll have to prove their claim.

with files from Simon Nakonechny