On the Picket Line

Pickets in Canada target Tim Hortons coffee chain takebacks

By Katy LeRougetel
and Michel Dugré
February 12, 2018

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — At dozens of locations across Canada unionists and other workers picketed outlets of the Tim Hortons coffee chain Jan. 19. They were protesting the decision by some franchise owners to take back health benefits and paid breaks in Ontario when the provincial government there raised the minimum wage from $11.60 to $14 (US$9.30 to $11.25) Jan. 1. A majority of the rallies took place in Ontario, sponsored by local labor councils and other groups pushing to raise the minimum wage.

Small business owners in Ontario complained about the increase, even though the government at the same time lowered their taxes from 4.5 to 3.5 percent.

“I find it almost impossible to live with less than $15 an hour,” Kelly Lahay, a young International Longshore and Warehouse Union member, told the Militant on the picket line here.

Irene Lanzinger, British Columbia Federation of Labour president, addressed the event. She had spoken before the provincial government’s Fair Wages Commission in the fall of 2017. She told them almost a quarter of British Columbia’s workers earn under $15 an hour.

Support for raising the minimum wage is widespread among working people. Provincial governments have responded by trying to put the brakes on, establishing long drawn-out timelines for increases in the minimum wage.