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Denying benefits to minimum wage workers outrageous: Unifor

January 5, 2018
TORONTO – The choice by Tim Hortons and other businesses to roll back benefits and paid breaks and then blame the cuts on Ontario’s minimum wage increase is a bully tactic by greedy business owners says Unifor.

“The minimum wage increase in effect since January 1 is long overdue and very much deserved. To see wealthy business owners now use that as an excuse for their own greedy desires is simply an outrage,” Dias said.

A Tim Hortons outlet in Cobourg, Ontario, owned by heirs to founders of the donut chain, made headlines for its decision to cut benefits and paid breaks for its non-union workers, and claimed the cuts result from an increase in the minimum wage to $14 that came into effect this week.

Since then, instances of additional Tim Hortons outlets and other chain restaurants cutting benefits, and even confiscating worker’s tips, have come to light. This follows complaints from Loblaw Chief Executive Officer Galan Weston last summer about the cost of the wage increase.

“We can’t continue to have an economy based on poverty-level wages for workers,” Dias said.

“At a time when CEOs are making record multi-million-dollar salaries, it is not too much to ask that workers be able to afford a decent standard of living – and that begins with raising the minimum hourly wage.”
Dias pointed out that there was no shortage of discussion about the minimum wage increase in the months leading up to it, giving businesses plenty of opportunity to prepare without hurting vulnerable staff. As well, small businesses were given a tax break to lessen the impact.

“There is no excuse for these wealthy business people for making these cuts. Workers deserve better and their rights should be respected," added Naureen Rizvi, the union's Ontario Regional Director. Rizvi also pointed out that workers in unionized shops are not seeing such arbitrary measures being taken because the employer can’t take away rights enshrined in a collective agreement.

“This week has really shown why workers need a stronger voice in the workplace,” Dias said.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or (cell) 416-896-3303