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Is it time for a national boycott of Tim Hortons?

NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

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NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

Mexican Tim Hortons employees accuse employer of abuse



http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Mexican+Hortons+employees+accuse+employer+abuse/7530055/story.html

Four former Tim Hortons employees from Mexico are at the centre of a human rights complaint against a franchise owner in Dawson Creek alleging the workers were forced to live in overcrowded housing and subjected to racist and discriminatory treatment.

The complaint was filed Friday by the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre on behalf of the Mexican workers: Rodolfo Lara, 43; Edxon Gonzales, 35; Eric Dessens, 33, and Ruben Ramirez, 28.

The men came to Canada earlier this year through Canada's temporary foreign worker program to work in two Dawson Creek restaurants owned by Tony Van Den Bosch.

They claim they were coerced by Van Den Bosch to live in one of two houses he owned, where up to 10 people lived two to a room in a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house.

"When Tim Hortons advertises the double double, I don't believe this is what ... Canadians had in mind," said Eugene Kung, a lawyer with BC PIAC. "The complainants felt extremely vulnerable having their employer as their landlord," the complaint says. "This placed them in a position of relative powerlessness right from the start of their stay in Dawson Creek."

The workers signed an agreement stipulating that their rent would be $200 a month, but Van Den Bosch required them to pay an additional $200 mid-month, the complaint says. The workers also claim they had to walk up to 40 minutes to and from work, with shifts ending as late as midnight and starting the next day at 5 or 6 a.m.

The complaint also contains allegations of racist and discriminatory treatment. Van Den Bosch called the Mexican workers lazy, "Mexican idiots" and on one occasion referred to himself as "the owner of their lives," the complaint says. Mexican workers were given menial jobs such as mopping and punished for speaking Spanish on the job while Filipinos were permitted to speak Tagalog, the complaint alleges. The workers also claim they were not given time off for sickness or injury.




Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

Tim Horton's is probably the busiest restaurant chain in Canada after McDonald's. It'll take a hell of a lot of organizing to make any kind of an impact.


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

The bigger they are, the further they can fall - all the more reason to give it serious consideration.

We need to stand up and support these workers!


Bacchus
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Joined: Dec 8 2003

Plus there are very few stores run by the corporation, almost all are franchises with a variety or treatment for workers. Some good, some excellent, some ok, some poor, some horrible


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

It's a brand name and they will do whatever it takes to protect it.

If a boycott takes hold just watch how quickly we will see some action.

I'm sure strategies are being discussed right now as we post here.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

I'd like to know lots more about this story. Does anyone here know how the temporary foreign worker program operates? Are the workers covered by the minimum employment standards of the provinces where they are employed? Most importantly: Why are we importing temporary foreign labour at all anytime anywhere? If these employers can't attract Canadian workers or landed immigrants, let them improve wages and working conditions, or just shut the fuck down?

From the article:

Quote:

"This is not about immigration, this is about exploitation," he said, adding that workers who come to Canada on a temporary basis should have the same rights as Canadian workers.

Other than their temporary residency status, which exact rights are they not afforded by law?


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

The problem is as usual in the details, which of course the federal government is not releasing to shelter the employers, and hide the truth from the public.

You want to work in a coal mine in BC - well you have to speak Mandarin!!!

Bad employer lawyer Peter Gall said foreign workers should not be paid Canadian wages but paid the same wages they are paid in the country they come from.

In other words, effectively, and eventually drive all Canadian workers wages down to $1.00 or less an hour.

This foreign worker's program is a vicious assault on all Canadian workers.

 

 

 

http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/workplaceskills/foreign_workers/pamphlet/ecr_...


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

The thing is, what can Tim Hortons do other than yank the guy's franchise? And depending on what sort of contract they have there may not be grounds for them to do so.

Seems to me the more reasonable place for this to play out is between BC labour and residential tenancy, federal immigration, and people in that community doing what they can to put pressure on this fellow.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Thanks, NorthReport.

From the federal website (this answers my main question):

Quote:
Federal-provincial/territorial employment standards and workplace safety legislation provide TFWs with the same rights and working conditions as Canadians and permanent residents. These protections and rights cannot be altered by any type of contractual agreement.

Well, that's one huge point covered. Of course, enforcement of one's rights may not be that simple for a temporary foreign worker, but at least there's supposedly nothing less than the same minimum standards applying to Canadian workers. So I guess the problem surrounds the deal as to living arrangements - and various kinds of harassment?

I'll have a closer look at the terms of the program. What I'd like to understand is whether it's the program that's flawed, or individual employers trying to violate the existing laws. There's no shortage of that phenomenon.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

Though it is interesting you mention McDonalds. Since that company seems to be doing their best to turn into Tim Hortons right now, they're probably a bit sensitive about their public image.

Though getting them to respond to your grievance might involve getting in line:

http://www.google.ca/search?q=tim+hortons+boycott&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t...

Remember there was some Tims franchise owner in Ontario who made the national news last year because of some ignorant thing?

 


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

My brother is already boycotting Tim Ho's for not offering seniors a discount on coffee nor even free coffee days, like McD's does. And I'm not buying coffee there anymore. Too pricey. And I think the donuts are trucked-in from Toronto or someplace else now, anyways, so WTH? Id they want to run it like an efficient business, then I'll be the epitome of the right-rightist's bizarro public choice theory and buy coffee elsewhere to spite them. Their coffee's not that all that good, anyway. Screw them and their efficiency experts. Cuz baby if they want me, they got to show me love. (Robin S.) Come on! Even a tiny discount one day of the month even to show us some love. Or something.


NDPP
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Joined: Dec 28 2008

Fidel wrote:

 Their coffee's not that all that good, anyway.

 

It's muck!

(Must be that nicotine they add to get you hooked eh....)


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

My contribution to any such boycott will be to continue as per normal.  To me their coffee is liquid ex-lax.


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

I've never liked Tim Horton's. I much prefer Country Style or Robin's Donuts, which is a moot point anyway, as we have neither here. but when I was in northern Ontario (15 years) I was at Country Style almost every day.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
It would be nice, at least in this forum, to discuss the issue from the viewpoint of the producer rather than the consumer.

Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

Are there no drift police?


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005
In their absence, I was just conducting a citizen's arrest.

Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

Migrant workers: Canada's disposable workforce

TMWs have no access to permanent immigration. They must stay in the job that they're given, losing the job will jeopardize their right to remain in Canada. This gives employers carte blanche to deny them all sorts of rights that other employees are entitled to.

Quote:

Charged exorbitant recruitment fees, forced to work unpaid overtime, subjected to dangerous working conditions, housed in sub-standard living conditions... these are just some of the abuses endured by migrant workers in Canada. 

Because of their lack of permanent status and their isolation, temporary migrant workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. In recent years the number of Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada has risen dramatically to over a quarter of a million. There is no system for monitoring and enforcing the terms of the program. Thus, while many employers are respectful of their workers, unscrupulous ones may abuse migrant workers without facing consequences. Temporary Foreign Workers are employed in many different jobs. They may be cooking or serving your meals at a fast-food restaurant, growing the food you eat on farms or processing it in factories, or looking after your children.

Alberta praises new foreign worker rules

Quote:

Canadian companies that want to bring in highly skilled foreign workers temporarily will be able to do so faster and pay them less under new federal immigration rules aimed at addressing the country’s persistent labour shortages.

In areas of the country that are booming economically – particularly Alberta – companies are complaining about the lack of skilled workers, a problem that Ottawa has identified as one of Canada’s biggest policy challenges. Of 190,000 temporary foreign workers who entered Canada last year, 25,500 went to Alberta.‬ Businesses that use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which allows employers to bring in workers if they can prove they have advertised the jobs locally without success, say they are relieved that it will become less cumbersome, but critics worry the changes will lead to lower wages across the country.

....

Also, previous rules required foreign workers to receive the “average wage” paid to Canadian workers in the same region, but the new rules will allow employers to pay up to 15 per cent less than that average wage.‬ ‪

....

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s Alberta director, Richard Truscott, applauded the changes and said the TFW program is a “godsend” for some businesses. He added that more changes are needed to cut red tape and improve the overall immigration system.‬ “This is one first step in that direction, but there are many more steps to go,” he said, noting the labour shortage is “going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”

Immigration consultant Peter Veress, the president of Calgary-based Vermax Group, also praised the move, saying a 10-day turnaround would be a big improvement.‬ He said the jobs are typically ones that Canadians don’t want. “I don’t think we can fix the [labour shortage]problem domestically,” he said.

‪But Nancy Furlong, secretary treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, says it is inappropriate for the federal government to bring in policies that will force Canadians across the country to compete for less pay.‬ ‪Ms. Furlong said the change will make it less likely that Canadians across the country will move to areas like Alberta, where there are skills shortages, because employers will opt for the foreign workers who can be paid less.‬

“They’re trying to drive down salaries and wages and frankly I don’t think that’s the job of our government to take one side, that being business, and find them ways of making money off the backs of citizens of the country by allowing them to drive wages down. I just think that’s just wrong, totally wrong.”‬ ‪

 


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

Canadians need to stand up for these foreign workers. Period!


Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

I agree, NR.


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

When I was an out-patient at the hospital in Sept-Iles, the only restaurant within walking distance of the hospital residence was Tim Horton's, so I'd go there and order sandwiches to go. I actually like their sandwiches better than the submarine places. I can't drink Timmie's coffee, though - much too strong for my digestive system (I have a bad problem with heartburn and acid reflux).


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

Why is it when a police officer is killed at work it is front page news but when a non-police worker or non-fire worker dies on the job the msp bury it on the back pages, if it's even there at all. 

We need to stop this nonsense, and the way to do it is every time a worker dies on the job, all Canadian workers need to stop work and have a massive memorial for that worker and his/her family who are left behind. Shut the country down on a regular basis until workers start getting treated as 1st class citizens in Canada. 

In the Lower Mainland workers died building the 2nd bridge from Vancouver to North Vancouver. Ever since then right-wingers have tried to use the name 2nd Narrows Bridge. BC NDP Premier Glen Clark officially named it the Ironworkers' Memorial Bridge.

We need to start naming major Canadian sites after workers who have died on the job particularly because of lax safety standards. Maybe this would help get these workers some of the respect they deserve, and also make jobsites safer for future workers.

Go to the Hoover Dam and see the massive effigy of the hi-scaler, see how the Americans celebrate the workers who build that massive dam.


Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

Constructed Categories

Quote:

Current immigration policy does not simply allow for the exploitation of migrant workers; rather it constructs migrant workers as exploitable.

As these categories are constructed and reconstructed, it is possible for those within them to move around. In the 1950s, workers arriving from the Caribbean replaced Italian workers as the new underclass, allowing Italian workers to move up the labour hierarchy into the realm of citizen, with all the attendant advantages.

Marginalized workers, classified as immigrant, temporary, or unemployed, are forced to compete with each other for bad jobs, low wages, and inaccessible services. Recent changes to EI legislation exacerbate that same competition.

....

While 60 per cent of refugee claimants in Canada will work for an average of three years in low-wage jobs before being deported, without access to EI or other social benefits, these refugees are never called “migrant workers.”

Separating people into categories of “migrant worker” or “refugee” fails to capture people’s lived reality.

“Immigrants are workers, students, parents, grandparents, visitors, spouses.. they are members of our families, workplaces, unions, our communities – each of these identities are chopped up into different immigrant streams by government,” says Macdonald Scott of migrant justice organization No One Is Illegal – Toronto.

....

When labour and social movements accept governmental categorizations, they become quietly complicit in the exclusions of people. When advocates speak only of “deserving” refugees, for example, they allow the government to respond by building even more rigid refugee determination processes.

....

Belief in the notion that most of the oppressed form a single class whose interests are tied together, and must be fought for together, is one means to break away from governmental divisions. However, while building a single, unifying framework, the very real differences in people’s experiences of governmental categorization must not be forgotten.

Demands by advocates should call for full access to rights, services, and benefits for all people, here and elsewhere. The demand for “status for all” articulated by No One Is Illegal groups is one example, as is the demand for “national regularization programs granting permanent immigration status for all non-residents living in Canada” by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC).

An expansive notion of solidarity is required not just as an ethical principle or a theoretical reflection, but enacted as an everyday struggle, both individual and collective. By rejecting governmental categorization, migrant workers, refugees, and citizens can see themselves not as categories but as people, as workers (waged and unwaged), and as comrades.

 


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