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Money Tim Hortons franchise owners tell workers to blame Wynne for benefit cuts and to 'not vote Liberal'

21:20  19 january  2018
21:20  19 january  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

Tim Hortons franchisees bully employees: Wynne

  Tim Hortons franchisees bully employees: Wynne TORONTO - The premier of Ontario is accusing the children of Tim Hortons' billionaire co-founder of bullying their employees by reducing their benefits in response to the province's increased minimum wage. In a letter to workers at two Tim Hortons restaurants in Cobourg, Ont., Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri Horton-Joyce said that as of Jan. 1, staff would no longer be entitled to paid breaks, and would have to pay a portion of the costs for dental and health benefits to offset the $2.40 jump in the hourly minimum wage. Premier Kathleen Wynne says if Joyce Jr. wants to challenge the Ontario government policy, he should come directly to her and not take it out on his workers.

A staff memo written by a couple of Tim Hortons franchise owners in Whitby, Ont., blames cuts to employee benefits on the Ontario government and its minimum wage hike.

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The notice also suggests employees contact Premier Kathleen Wynne if they have concerns about the changes — and let her know she doesn't have their support.

"I encourage you to let her know how your workplace will change as a result of her new [minimum wage] law and that you will not vote Liberal in the coming Ontario election in June 2018," says the notice, which lists Susan and Jason Holman as the authors.

The Holmans own three Tim Hortons locations northeast of Toronto, including a pair in Whitby and one in nearby Ajax, said an employee who works at one of the locations.

The employee, who asked that CBC not publish their name or workplace location for fear of repercussions, said the notice was posted at work in November — just weeks before the minimum wage hike to $14 an hour from $11.60 took effect on Jan. 1.

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"The political part of the note infuriated me," the worker said in an email.

"I can not say for certain that it has in fact convinced [employees] to blame Wynne, or turned them away from [the] Liberals, but that's certainly the intent of the letter, and I'm sure seeds have definitely been planted because of it."

The Holmans cut employee perks such as paid breaks and free hot drinks on the job, and reduced health benefit coverage, the employee said.

The children of the Tim Hortons coffee chain founders cut paid breaks and staff benefits for employees after a minimum wage hike in Ontario. On Jan. 1, 2018, Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government implemented new rules mandating a minimum wage of $14 an hour. That's a $2.40 raise from last year's level. (Evan Mitsui/CBCNews)© Evan Mitsui/CBC The children of the Tim Hortons coffee chain founders cut paid breaks and staff benefits for employees after a minimum wage hike in Ontario. On Jan. 1, 2018, Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government implemented new rules mandating a minimum wage of $14 an hour. That's a $2.40 raise from last year's level. (Evan Mitsui/CBCNews)

Workers at nearly a dozen Tim Hortons outlets across Ontario have told CBC News their owners have made similar cutbacks to offset the costs of the minimum wage hike.

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  By the numbers: How much will the minimum wage hike cost Tim Hortons? The Great White North Franchisee Association says the minimum wage increase will cost the average Tim Hortons franchise $243,889.10 a year Here’s a closer look at the numbers provided by the association, which says on its website it represents 50 per cent of the Tim Hortons chain in Canada. The figure is based on a minimum wage increase of $2.40 an hour The calculation assumes the $2.40 increase will be applied to every worker’s salary. Only employees who were making the previous minimum wage, $11.60 an hour, are legally entitled to the new rate, $14. Some businesses have said the higher rate will inflate their entire payroll because they want to maintain pay differentials between newer hires and more senior staff. The $2.40 rate is bumped up to $3.35 an hour when other costs are factored in. GWNFA says this figure includes Canadian Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, Employee Health tax, workers’ compensation premiums, training costs, sick leave, and increased vacation pay. Increased vacation pay introduced by Bill 148 will only impact workers who have been with a company for five years or more. They will now be entitled to three weeks leave. Average number of employees at a Tim Hortons store: 35 Average increased cost for one full-time employee: $6,968.26 Divided by the hourly cost increase (of $3.35) per employee and a 52-week year, this figure suggests Tim Hortons employees work a 40-hour week.

In the notice, the Holmans say workplace changes were necessary "to stay in business," but the employee claims it's unfair for them to blame the Ontario government for the cuts.

"The only person to blame for these changes is the one who made them … and the one who doesn't think we are deserving of this pay wage," said the worker, who claims before the changes, the Tim Hortons location was a good place to work.

The individual also said the owners have informed employees the cutbacks may only be temporary, depending on how the situation plays out.

"I just hope things will get back to the way they were. With the loss of benefits, this pay raise doesn't really put me (and everyone else) any better off."

'No comment' from owner

CBC News reached franchise owner Jason Holman by phone at a Tim Hortons in Whitby.

He declined to comment on the notice or the employee benefit cuts, saying he isn't "media savvy" and that CBC should contact head office.

"I don't want to be rude because I'm not a rude individual. I know you're just trying to do your job, but there's no comment," he said. "You're going to have to accept that."

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CBC pointed out that the notice encouraging workers to blame the Liberal government had already been posted on social media, and was being widely shared.

"I don't care," he said.

CBC News also contacted Tim Hortons head office and the Great White North Franchisee Association, which says it represents more than half of Tim Hortons franchise owners. Both declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the employee notice is generating lots of negative comments on social media.

Tiffany Balducci, second vice-president of the Durham Labour Region Council, obtained a copy from a tipster, and another labour group posted it on Facebook.

"I was surprised to see that an employer would be telling their employees how they should be voting and bringing politics into the workplace," Balducci said.

"It seemed like political coercion to me. It's reprehensible."

Balducci says it's unfair to tell workers that if they don't like the benefit cuts at their workplace, they should contact the premier.

"It shouldn't be on the lowest-paid workers to just try to sort this out."

Balducci says her organization had previously heard reports about the Holmans cutting employee benefits, which is why it helped organize a protest at a Whitby location owned by the couple last Saturday.

"Not only to cut [paid] breaks and take things away from your workers, but to blame it on the government?" said Balducci. "Maybe [franchise owners] should be talking to their parent company."

Tim Hortons has been in the spotlight since early January, when CBC News first revealed some franchise owners in Ontario were clawing back employee benefits.

At the time, the Great White North Franchisee Associationdefended the rollbacks, stating that head office won't let franchise owners offset the minimum wage hike in other ways, such as by raising prices.

Tim Hortons — which is owned by multinational Restaurant Brands International — said individual franchise owners are responsible for handling all employment matters.

It also blamed the recent controversy over benefit rollbacks on a "rogue group" of franchise owners who "do not reflect the values of our brand."

Tim Hortons protests to expand beyond Ontario .
TORONTO - Protesters angered by some Ontario Tim Hortons franchisees who slashed workers' benefits and breaks after the province raised its minimum wage plan to spread their rallies to other areas of the country. About 50 demonstrations are planned in cities across the country on Friday, although at least 38 will be based in Ontario, including 18 planned in Toronto. As of Dec. 31, 2016, the number of Tim Hortons locations in Canada was 3,801. Other AMZN

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