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Tim Hortons tries to sway voters against Kathleen Wynne

The battle between Tim Hortons and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne continues, with a store in Whitby blaming the politician for the changes certain owners have made to benefits and paid breaks.

In a letter sent to employees in November, owners Susan and Jason Holman, who own a number of stores within Whitby and Ajax, place all blame regarding changes to benefits and pay on the province. They urge employees to contact the Premier directly to complain.

“I encourage you to let [Wynne] know how your workplace will change as a result of her new law and that you will not vote Liberal in the coming Ontario election in June 2018,” the letter reads. Included was the phone number and email for the Premier’s office.

Pettiness aside, the fact that store owners, or rather employers, are trying to influence the political association of the people who depend on them for their pay check is despicable. To those who may not know better, this could be seen as an instruction on how to vote in the next election. Even more than that, it makes a correlation between an employees benefits and paid sick leave, with their political decision come June 6th.

To be absolutely clear: no employer has the right to sway the votes of their employees. It’s absolutely deplorable.

Women’s Post has previously written about how Tim Horton’s is coming across as a large greedy corporation who is slashing health benefits and reducing paid breaks in order to maintain their bottom line. And instead of stepping up and helping owners by raising prices by 10 cents, the Tim Horton’s head office is simply playing the blame game, putting the onus on government and private store owners to figure it all out.

The letter mentioned above was sent out in November, two months prior to the minimum wage increase. This just proves the store owners had no intention of trying to make this raise work.

The Premier responded in twitter by saying:

 

Greedy Tim Hortons just lost my business

My heart bleeds for you Tim Hortons. Last year, you only earned $3 billion (US) in revenue, so with this minimum wage increase, I’m wondering how you will keep afloat? Those extra two dollars you now have to pay your hard working employees is bound to create havoc. Owners of the stores will need to work even harder to make ends meet.

Hopefully, you detected the sarcasm.

It was all over the news Thursday. A Tim Hortons, owned by the children of the business’ founder, has told employees they will no longer receive benefits or get paid for their breaks. The reason?  It’s that darn minimum wage increase. Without “assistance” from head office or the government, Tim Hortons apparently cannot afford to continue offering 15 minute paid breaks or health and dental.

Here are some of the changes Tim Hortons — at least this particular store — is making to accommodate the new labour laws:

  • Breaks will no longer be paid. This means that someone working an eight hour shift will be paid for seven and a half hours instead of the full eight.
  • No more bonuses for covering shifts when called on days off.
  • No “day of pay” when you have a death in the family and cannot work
  • Dental and Health benefits will no longer be covered. Those who have worked at Tim Hortons for five years or more will have to cover 50 per cent of the cost. Those working between six months and five years will have to cover 75 per cent of the cost.

Essentially, for some employees, having to pay 50 per cent of the cost of their benefits and with the loss of paid breaks, an employees biweekly paycheck could be even less than it was prior to the minimum wage increase.

But, the owners? Oh, they won’t be affected now. The revenue will continue to stream in. Problem solved, right?

This is what I hate about the world we live in. It’s run by greed. While small, mom and pop businesses have a right to be a little concerned, this province-wide freak out by large franchise businesses is disgusting. It’s proving that employers really don’t care about the people who work for them. It’s all about the bottom line, and if that means your cashier can’t afford to actually eat at your restaurant, then that’s too bad.

As a former Tim Horton’s employee, I know first hand how hard these people work. It is a fast-paced environment, with high expectations of quality and service. Most employees are immigrants or young people trying to support themselves and their families. They come in before the sun rises and sometimes leave after the sun sets. They cater to the whim of all customers, no matter how rude or inappropriate they may act. They clean bathrooms, work the food line, stand at cashier, and make runs to the garbage dump wearing t-shirts in -30 degree weather. They do all of this, every shift, regardless of whether they are feeling well or just spent the last 12 hours in classes or writing exams.

Can you imagine doing that job?

The raising of the minimum wage is causing unnecessary fear among business owners. They think they need to immediately cut staff and raise prices. A December report by the Bank of Canada didn’t help with its statistic that 60,000 jobs could be lost by 2019. But, can you judge the financial repercussions of these labour laws after only one week, based on predictions and rumours? As with most big changes, businesses need to give the process time to work. The economy will bounce back after a few months of uncertainty, and if it doesn’t, owners can deal with it at that time. Acting pre-emptively to ensure larger revenue does nothing but make you look foolish and heartless.

In fact, before making any changes to your business, I challenge every business owner, manager, or executive to try living off $14 an hour while paying into benefits. Do this for a year. Only then can you complain about the minimum wage’s affect on the economy.

As for Tim Horton’s, it’s a damn shame. As a fervent Timbit lover, I’m incredibly disappointed. The franchise is saying that each store owner has a right to enact their own rules, but this store is owned by the family founders. What kind of example are they setting for everyone else? This precedent is incredibly dangerous for those working for so little money to begin with.

Honestly, I would rather buy a more expensive coffee at a local business and reduce my caffeine intake than spend money at a restaurant that treats its employees with such disdain.

Sorry Tim Hortons, but you just lost me as a customer.

EDITORIAL: What’s the value of an employee?

What’s the value of an employee? Better yet, what’s the value of a human life?

A few weeks ago, the Ontario Liberal government announced a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 in the next few years. After the press releases were handed out, two things happened — low-paying workers rejoiced and businesses started complaining.

Small businesses argued they wouldn’t be able to stay afloat if they had to dedicate more funds to their employees. Larger industries also criticized the government’s decision, saying they will be forced to cut down on labour and raise the prices of their services.

As someone who understands the perils of living on minimum wage, I don’t exactly sympathize. But, it’s one thing to make a business-case argument and another to dismiss the value of having a hardworking (and well-paid) employee at all.

In Tuesday’s morning paper, I saw an advertisement doing exactly that.

In the ad, a woman is standing at a counter preparing to take a customer’s card and complete a transaction. The text reads: “The Ontario government has announced a devastating 31.6 per cent increase in the general minimum wage. Quick Service Restaurant operators now have a choice….More than $15.00/hour or only $2.50/hour.” The advertisement is for a self-serving order kiosk, by RT7 Incorporated. Under the picture of the machine is a list of benefits such as “never comes late”, “no coffee breaks”, “no overtime”, and “doesn’t complain.”

This advertisement isn’t about technology or the future of restaurants — it’s about an employer who thinks his/her workers aren’t worth the sick days and overtime pay. It’s about labelling everything that employee does as something not deserving of being fairly compensated.

And that is absolutely unacceptable.

Advertisements like this one are incredibly dangerous. It makes the assumption that every day human actions like getting coffee or getting sick are somehow of detriment to a company. That human beings, especially those paid minimum wage, complain too much and use social media (a.k.a. are irresponsible).

This is not a stereotype that should be allowed to spread.

As Ontario pushes forward this new legislation, it’s important to remember that employees are, more often than not, hard workers. Many have large student loans or families to support. They may have a second job or may be in school. All they want to do is be able to afford a place to live and food to eat. It’s not that much of an ask, right?

If a business can’t afford their employees, they shouldn’t be allowed to remain open. It’s as simple as that. And anyone who thinks a kiosk can replace a human being, obviously hasn’t had to call the cable company.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Ontario set to increase minimum wage to $15

Tuesday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne officially announced a plan that would see the province’s minimum wage increased to $15 by 2019.

“The economy has changed. Work has changed,” Wynne said in a statement. “It’s time our laws and protections for workers changed too.

Employees can expect the minimum wage to be raised to $14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018 before the government phases in the last dollar in Jan. 2019. After that, minimum wage will be increased annually at the rate of inflation.

The province is also mandating equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual, and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees. This is a critical statement to make, as too often changes to employment laws only affect full-time workers, leaving those struggling in short-term contracts behind.

Other changes to the Ontario’s employment and labour laws include:

  • Increasing vacation time to at least three weeks after five years within a company
  • Managing that employees be paid for three hours of work if a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time
  • Employees can refuse shifts without repercussion if asked with less than four days notice
  • Expanding personal emergency leave to include two paid days per year for all workers

There will also be some slight changes to union laws, which will establish card-based certification for temporary workers, among other things.

It’s still unclear how the business community will respond to this announcement, but most employees living on the current minimum wage will be supporting it. At the current minimum wage, a full-time employee will make on average $23,712. As Women’s Post has previously mentioned, this kind of salary (especially considering the state of the real estate market) doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to pay for anything other than shelter, transportation, and amenities.

This will also give the Liberal party a leg up come the next provincial election. The $15 minimum wage is a big political issue for millennials and other young people venturing out into the working world. The timing of this announcement, along with the Liberal’s plan for free prescription medicine for those under the age of 25, is no accident.

 

NOTE: the NDP came out with a plan to increase minimum wage to $15 prior to the provincial budget release.