Tim Hortons’ response to minimum wage hikes sparks series of protests

Franchise targeted after cuts to employees' benefits announced

The chant was heard across Ontario on Jan. 10: “Hold the coffee, hold the cream. They are your workers, don’t be mean.”

It was directed against Tim Hortons franchises as news came of cuts to employees’ benefits.

After  Ontario’s minimum wage was increased by $2.40, Tim Hortons franchises in Cobourg, Ont., sent a letter to its employee stating that they will be cutting benefits.

Since then, reports surfaced about more cuts to health benefits, paid breaks, tips and other factors.

This did not sit well with unions across Ontario, who started movements to boycott the popular franchise, such as #NoTimmiesTuesday.

Protesters surrounded Tim Hortons across Ontario in support of the employees.

One of them was the shop at 444 Yonge St. in Toronto.

“Restaurant Brands International (RBI) is the chain owner and they’ve made $3 billion revenue with the Tim Hortons brand,” said Melisa Bayon, a member of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL.

Bayon said RBI has the power to control the franchise’s decision and “support Tim Hortons workers, bring back the benefits that they were getting and more.”

In addition to the OFL focusing on getting RBI’s attention, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) aims to get Tim Hortons corporate attention.

“What they should be doing is making sure that this minimum wage increase lifts the workers up but instead what they’re doing is using this as an excuse to claw things back,” said Jessica Sikora, an executive board member at OPSEU. “That’s despicable,”

Sikor charged Tim Hortons corporate is trying to “weasel their way out of this.”

Sikora suggested all minimum wage workers who are experiencing retaliation should get a hold of the Workers Section Centre immediately.

In total, there were 15 protests across Ontario (including Windor, Hamilton, Ottawa and London), nine of which were in Toronto.

Other groups present at the protest in Toronto were Labour Toronto & York Region Council and $15 & Fairness.

Tim Hortons has yet to respond to the protests and reports.