2018-01-10 17:32:37 UTC
'Greed is not OK': Backlash grows against Tim Hortons worker benefit
Critics claim Tim Hortons needs to take a stand on the issue or risk
Sophia Harris · CBC News · 5 hours ago
More than a dozen protests are planned today at Tim Hortons locations
in Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
The backlash against both Tim Hortons and individual franchise owners
continues to rage after some owners cut employee benefits to offset
Ontario's minimum wage hike.
The restaurant chain's Facebook page has been flooded with hundreds of
angry comments from customers, and protests are planned today at
several Tim Hortons outlets in Ontario to demand employees get their
"It's definitely hurting Tim Hortons' image," said retail expert Bruce
Winder about the growing backlash. "This could really multiply into
He believes if the coffee shop giant doesn't take action soon to
address the issue, it risks losing loyal customers.
"They need to get in front of this. Whenever there's a crisis, you
can't put your head in the sand."
Workers at nearly a dozen Tim Hortons outlets across Ontario
including in Cobourg and Whitby have told CBC News that store owners
are cutting employee perks like paid breaks and benefits in response
to January's minimum wage increase to $14 an hour.
The news has upset many customers who have taken to Facebook to
express their outrage.
A social media movement is encouraging people to boycott Tim Hortons
on Tuesdays. (Facebook)
Some are demanding a boycott of the chain with grassroots campaigns
such as "No Timmys Tuesday," where customers are encouraged to buy
their coffee elsewhere that day.
"With this crappy attitude to your minimum pay workers, I'll be
boycotting Tim Hortons until this situation is clearly rectified,"
posted one customer.
Tims protests begin
Meanwhile, labour activists have organized protests today at more than
a dozen Tim Hortons across Toronto and other southern Ontario
communities, including Cobourg, Hamilton, Windsor, Guelph, London and
A protest at a Whitby location is planned for Saturday.
"It does make me angry," said labour activist and Tim Hortons customer
Derek Blackadder, who plans to attend the Cobourg event and has been
spreading news about the protests online.
"These are people who are just hanging on income-wise," he said of the
affected workers. "The expression 'kicking them when they're down'
comes to mind."
The Durham Region Labour Council is helping organize both the Cobourg
and Whitby protest. Member Tiffany Balducci said the aim is to support
Tim Hortons employees by demanding they get back whatever benefits
"We want to send a clear message to Tim Hortons to treat their workers
with respect," she said.
"Greed is not OK. Don't take something away from your workers who are
making the lowest wage legally possible."
Both Tim Hortons and The Great White North Franchisee Association
(GWNFA), which represents a number of Canadian Tim Hortons franchise
owners, declined to comment on the issue.
However, last week, GWNFA defended employee benefit rollbacks, stating
with the minimum wage hike, franchise owners face increased labour
costs because head office won't let them raise prices.
Tim Hortons heirs cut paid breaks and worker benefits after minimum
wage hike, employees say
Multiple Tim Hortons franchises, other Ontario businesses cut pay,
Tim Hortons' owner, multinational Restaurant Brands International
(RBI) shot back by blaming the recent uproar on a "rogue group" of
franchise owners who "do not reflect the values of our brand."
Time to take a stand?
Many critics are not satisfied with RBI's response and are demanding
that the company take charge.
"I know the parent company is saying 'Oh, it's these rogue franchise
owners,'" says Balducci. "But I think the parent company should hold
the franchise owners responsible, definitely, and set guidelines."
That sentiment is echoed by some customers on Facebook. "Dear Tim
Hortons, I'm more than happy to pay an extra ten cents for my coffee
for your employees to get a better wage," posted one person.
Tim Hortons lashes out at 'rogue' franchisees as employees lose even
Regardless of who's to blame for the Tim Hortons backlash, retail
expert Winder says RBI needs to show customers it's taking action on
the matter or else continue to face what's growing into a public
"People are emotionally attached to Tims, and when they see that Tims
is treating workers badly or not treating them fairly, people get up
in arms," said Winder, a co-founder of the Retail Advisors Network, a
consultancy firm in Toronto.
"They need to get out in front of Canadians, with whatever strategy
they have, and say they're sorry and say here's what we're going to
However, Winder admits that RBI is in a tough spot. That's because if
it raises prices, that move could also anger customers who don't want
to pay more for Tim Hortons products.
"Sadly, Tim Hortons has kind of painted themselves into a corner now
where, if they raise prices, they look bad, [and] if they don't raise
prices and this continues, they look bad.
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