Tim Hortons employees strike over 30 cent raise dispute
Clarification: A previous version of this report had a headline that stated the Tim Hortons employees went on strike over a 10-cent raise. The Tim Hortons employees went on strike after they did not agree to their employer’s offer of a 20-cent raise, effectively striking over the 10-cent difference.
A Winnipeg Tim Hortons locked out its employees Friday morning after its employees demanded a thirty-cent hourly raise.
The Tim Hortons employees picketed at Portage and Main to fight for their wage increase. Ben Garus, a baker who started working at the franchise in August told the Winnipeg Free Press, “We really aren’t asking for much.”
The wage increase is almost equivalent to the price of a timbit.
The location had 15 workers, who are represented by the Workers United Canada Council and during the most recent round of collective bargaining they asked for a 30-cent per hour increase. JP Shearer, the franchise owner, made a counter offer of 20 cents, bringing the wage to $11.95/hr.
Union representative, Andy Spence said to the Winnipeg Free Press the union rejected the offer and had hoped to further negotiations however Shearer responded by giving the employees two weeks notice before locking the employees out and bringing in new workers.
The franchisee operates six Tim Hortons locations in Winnipeg, but only the shops at Lombard Avenue and Graham Avenue are unionized said Spence.
There was a 20-cent an hour raise offered to the unionized employees on Graham and they agreed but when the Lombard shop held a strike vote in December, there was an overwhelming agreement to take action with 95 percent in favour of a strike.
The union was initially certified in 2017 and their first agreement involved a 30-cent raise which brought their hourly wage up from $11.15. Employees are now hoping Shearer will match that for them and help move them towards a living wage.
Living Wage Canada released a report for Manitoba back in 2017 and calculated that for a family of four, with both parents working full-time, the hourly wage had to be $14.54 to cover all costs.
Cherry Garcia, 36, an employee of the Lombard location for seven years, said the extra 10 cents/hr would do a lot to help support her daughter. “It will add up,” she said.
In the meantime, the location’s new employees tended to the morning coffee-break rush, while the manager refused comment.
Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the Brazilian parent company of Tim Horton’s released a report on Monday stating that Tim Horton’s sales had dropped 4.3 percent in the final quarter of 2019. Tim Hortons is RBI’s most lucrative brand and the sales drop is much higher than the company had predicted.
Tim Hortons had previously tried to reach news consumers by introducing a plant-based breakfast sandwich through Beyond Meat, however the new addition was discontinued after only a few months due to lack of sales.
RBI has relied on its chicken chain, Popeye’s, to make up the difference for Tim Horton’s drop in sales. Popeye’s brought the parent company’s overall shares up four percent on Monday morning. A very popular chicken sandwich was reintroduced to the Popeye’s chain which saw a 34.4 percent spike in same-location sales. RBI’s analysts had only predicted a 12 percent increase with the menu change however were surprised with the popularity. The spike in sales also prompted competitor McDonald’s to test out its own new chicken sandwich at some of its chains as well.
As for Tim Hortons RBI says it’s going to refocus on the “founding values” of the chain in an attempt to regain popularity in Canada.
Beyond Meat products will no longer be sold at Tim Horton’s anymore in Canada. The coffee and doughnut chain had previously carried both a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich as well as a Beyond Meat burger.
Both items were initially sold at nearly all of the approximately 4,000 locations until last September when the products were reduced to being sold only in Ontario and British Columbia.
“We introduced Beyond Meat as a limited time offer. We are always listening to our guests and testing new products that align to our core menu offerings. We may offer Beyond Meat again in the future,” Tim Hortons said in an e-mailed statement.
This marks the first blip in Beyond Meat’s fast-growing company, the plant-based meat maker currently holds partnerships with Dunkin’ Donuts, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s in the US They have also just inked a new deal in Canada with Subway as they will take on their meatball subs at locations across the country, according to the National Post.
A spokesperson on behalf of Beyond Meat confirmed that the offer with Tim Horton’s was a limited time promotion and that they may work with them again in the future. Tim Hortons’ parent company, R.B.I. Inc. has not released a statement at this time.
Tim Horton’s rebranding as “Tim’s” is quite ingenious really. It makes one feel like they’re en route to their dear old friend Tim’s for a cup of joe. All things considered, you really have to hand it to Tim Horton’s marketing team, they’re undeniably good. They’ve always had that, their original slogan was “You’re friend along the way.”
They’ve managed to convince Canadians more than ever that they are quintessential Canadiana, on par with Terry Fox, Don Cherry, maple syrup and the Trailer Park Boys. The only problem is that, well, they are not Canadian anymore. They sure started out that way back in 1964 when it was first opened by then-NHLer Tim Horton himself.
What a man of great humility, you could see why Canadians were eager to make his dozen or so coffee shops their new coffee of choice. And boy, they had a good run until they sold the company to Burger King in 2014 at which point they became a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International. That conglomerate is part of 3G Capital, a majority-owned Brazilian investment firm.
Another business strategy Tim Hortons is known for that might bother Canadians is their insistence on hiring Temporary Forgein Workers. Although this practice is used by many fast food restaurants throughout the country, Tim Hortons appears to utilize it a lot. Funny for a company claiming to be a slice of Canada from top to bottom. The claim is that they need to hire TFW in order for their business model to survive, it also frees them from having to give intermittent raises for seniority.
On top of that, there is the issue of the food and its preparation. For decades the Tim Hortons’ slogan was “Always Fresh”, but that sounds stale today. At one time their bread, donuts, muffins were all baked in store and served fresh, but now they are all baked and then flash frozen at a manufacturing facility in Brantford, Ontario. Lifelong Tim’s consumers have complained about the difference in taste.
The other problem with the brand is that they’ve been marred by a string of scandals that are in direct violation with their “Canadian values.” such as refusing to let a woman use their restroom facilities. The woman then decided to defecate on the store floor to prove a point, point proven indeed, perhaps a little overkill.
One of the things Tim Hortons pushes hard in their marketing is their affection for Canada’s youth, sending kids to summer camp and Timbits hockey for example. In 2008 however, a Tim Horton’s employee who decided to give a free timbit to the 11-month-old baby of a regular customer was fired. The Tim Horton’s employee Nicole Lilliman, was a single mother of four children herself. The manager who fired Lilliman on grounds of “theft” was promoted for the action. Lilliman’s job was later reinstated due to public backlash.
A Tim Horton’s location in Winnipeg was recently dealing with an employee strike over a 30 cent raise in their wages. To which the franchisee owner’s response was to lock the employees out of the location and hire an all new staff.
As recent as today the Brazilian franchise has stirred up the Twitter world after tweeting out an offer to give free coffee for life to royal family members Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Many saw the offer as a slap in the face to the employees currently under strike for a living wage.
Tim Horton’s revenues have been plummeting over the past several years and they have given their shareholders a variety of reasons as to why that might be. Their CEO even cited the cold weather as an issue, something that has been a rather recent problem in the nation of Canada, where people haven’t figured out a hot beverage can help keep them warm.
It seems the only explanation they can’t come up with, and the one they need to learn most, for most Canadians the jig is up. We know you aren’t that slice of Canadiana you used to be. We best put it in a language you can understand, so here goes, “Adeus, ao meu amigo ao longo do caminho.” Which of course is Portuguese for, “Farewell, my friend along the way.”
Tim Hortons boldly went where no company has gone before—offering free coffee for life to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Harry and Meghan have announced that they are walking away from their senior roles due to splitting their time between their native U.K. and North America.
Tim Hortons was quick to jump to Twitter to give an “enticing” offer to get the couple to reside in Canada tweeting, “No pressure, Meghan and Harry, but if you do choose to move to Canada, free coffee for life. Think about it.”
The tweet has seemed to backfire however amongst Canadians who appear dissatisfied with the gesture. Twitter users saw the publicity stunt as a prime opportunity to call out the corporation for its hiring practices as well as other unsavoury business strategies.
“How about letting the homeless get warm?” one person wrote, posting a photo they took from an Ottawa location describing trespassing laws which was clearly a nod to the cities homeless. “I will never buy anything from Tim Hortons again ever, due to this sign.”
Some 2000 people have shared the original tweet from Tim Hortons with added comments of their own, “Pay your employees a living wage,” writer Kait Kucy tweeted.
“Tim Hortons can afford to give free coffee to royalty but a ten-cent raise for workers is too much?” wrote another Twitter user. That particular tweet is a reference to an ongoing strike at a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg in which the franchisee owner locked the employees out and hired an all-new staff.
“Wow, talk about tone-deaf. Sort out paying your workers a living wage before you start giving freebies to the rich.” wrote another user.
Perhaps they could have tweeted something along the lines of, “We welcome you to Canada with a free coffee,” or “You can’t have the true Canadian experience without a cup of Tim Hortons coffee,” Instead of fawning over them with a desperate offer.