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Mexican Tim Hortons employees accuse employer of abuse
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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:
"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. [/quote]
Other than their temporary residency status, which exact rights are they not afforded by law?
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.
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.
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.[/quote]
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.
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:
Remember there was some Tims franchise owner in Ontario who made the national news last year because of some ignorant thing?
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.
Their coffee's not that all that good, anyway.
(Must be that nicotine they add to get you hooked eh....)
My contribution to any such boycott will be to continue as per normal. To me their coffee is liquid ex-lax.
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.
It would be nice, at least in this forum, to discuss the issue from the viewpoint of the producer rather than the consumer.
Are there no drift police?
In their absence, I was just conducting a citizen's arrest.
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.
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
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.”
Canadians need to stand up for these foreign workers. Period!
I agree, NR.
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).
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.
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.
So when is the person who actually poured the water on the homeless people going to apologize?
Is that person still working there?
Apparently it was the store's manager.
The person who actually did this needs to be given the boot to set an example to others to remember to consider the worth and dignity of each person and that you do not mistreat those less fortunate than themselves.
"There but for the grace of God go I" is one of the lessons the manager needs to learn ,and how else is the manager going to learn anything from this unless a price is paid as a reminder?
Tim Hortons apologizes after water poured on sleeping homeless men
Facebook campaign calls for boycott of Robson Street store in downtown Vancouver
Peggy Morrison, who works across the street from the store at 463 Robson St. and watched it happen, said afterwards she phoned and gave a description of the person to a store clerk and was told it was the manager.
Morrison said she was working in her store when she saw a man come out of the Tim Hortons with a bucket of water and pour it under a homeless man who was sleeping with his dog on cardboard and blankets.
She said the water was deliberately poured under the man's blankets to ensure a good soaking.
She said the individual from the store then poured the remains of the bucket under a second man sleeping on the other side of the door.
Morrison said the man re-emerged from the TimHortons with a straw broom and proceeded to sweep beverage cups, sheets of cardboard and the remains of plastic garbage bags from the man's sleeping mat down the sidewalk away from the store.
Morrison's co-worker Arianne Summach took to Twitter and Facebook shortly afterwards calling for a boycott of the Robson Street store. (there appears to be something wrong with the link).
Not the manager but the owner of that franchise apparently
That is why the bastard hasn't been sacked. But he has to make amends to the men (remember, two were affected) and the main victim's dog, making sure all are ok and haven't been harmed by exposure. Not just to a homeless shelter - and some homeless people I've known want no part of Sally Ann shelters.
It is a sickening attack on human beings (and a canine being).
One of the guys was interviewed.
[quote]"How is he going to make amends? He wants to meet with me and what, say, 'I'm sorry for being a dick? I'm not going to do it again?' He's going to do it again."[/quote]
This just adds to the reasons why I've boycotted Tims all these years. Initially it was just about the disagreeable taste of their coffee, donuts, and other menu selections.
I think the main problem will be for people "on the road", or in small towns where there might not be a better café. Of course I never go there, but I live in Petite-Italie, near Jean-Talon market, and there are many cafés where the coffee is not only far better, but also not expensive, and which aren't snobbish or overly "trendy". Sometimes in small places or neighbourhoods with nothing congenial and non-chain, people can organise a co-operative café, though it is a challenge.
Naturally, the media comments are full of social-cleansing and now anti-Indigenous language. Homelessness is a serious problem, but there are solutions. They require investment of funds and effort, creation of housing adapted to people who are in crisis (with social support) as well as preventing homelessness by preventing speculation and making housing too expensive for vulnerable people. Alas this is not very likely in the current political climate.
At the turn of the last century, Rosa Luxemburg wrote a stunning indictment of the treatment of itinerants in her piece "In the Shelter" (page 45-50 of this .pdf, Die Gleichheit, 1912 http://www.rosalux.de/fileadmin/rls_uploads/pdfs/Themen/Rosa_Luxemburg/R...
In Montréal, there used to be a lot of rooming houses; there are songs, poems and stories about them. These have practically disappeared.
I'm wondering if pouring water on someone in this context, and with that intent, could be considered assault. And if not, why not.
My thoughts too!
I wondering the same thing. But now that the victim has spoken out, it's maybe not so clear-cut:
The 30-year-old said he was trying to sleep outside a Tim Hortons on Robson Street Friday when a man who works at the store told him to leave, because employees planned to clean the street.
"I was sleeping, just trying to stay out of the rain. It wasn't actually a very good spot, but I was tired," Faithful said.
He didn't leave, and said the man came back and poured water from a bucket on the ground near him and his dog, Pikey.
"All my stuff, all my ground cover and blankets that are keeping me insulated from the concrete, got wet," he said.
All of his belongings were also "drenched."[/quote]
Once he describes it that way, I can just guess how the cops would respond to a homeless Aboriginal man with a criminal record etc. etc. - assuming he did have the nerve to make a police report in the first place.
Indeed. If it is good enough for constable bubbles, why not here?