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Union Tells Of Fast-Food Workers Having Hours and Benefits Cut After Wage Hike

The Law of Unintended Consequences spreads as more fast-food workers see their hours and benefits cut as minimum-wage hike takes effect.

Across Ontario, Canada, iconic coffee chain Tim Horton’s raised the ire of worker advocates when it announced it was cutting back on certain employee benefits as a result of government-mandated wage hikes in the province.

Now, the Cornwall and District Labour Council is stating that it is hearing from workers at other businesses that they, too, are having benefits cut.

“We’ve been talking to people in stores and restaurants … it’s been a bit of an underground kind of method,” said the labour council’s Louise Lanctot.

[snip]

“We’ve heard of hours being slashed. We’ve heard – and this is illegal as well – of people being forced to work for 45 minutes and then taking a 15-minute break. When people are called into work, the minimum shift is three hours, not 45 minutes,” said the labour council president. “There’s a whole variety of things we’ve heard about.”

So far, all the labour council has is hearsay from workers in the community, but if more evidence emerges against particular businesses that it may be violating labour law, Lanctot said the council is prepared to file complaints with the Ministry of Labour.

Although Wynne slammed the Tim Hortons heirs as “bullies,” many small business owners feel they are the ones being victimized by being forced to drastically increase their payroll expenses overnight. Steps such as reducing hours and benefits, it has been argued, are the only way for these companies to stay afloat financially without cutting jobs or increasing prices – the latter of which may not be practical because of stiff competition.

The government mandated a wage increase of 21 percent in Ontario, raising wages from $11.60 to a minimum of $14 at the beginning of the year.

While it is less than the union-backed initiative of $15 per hour, the resulting “clawbacks” are already having a negative effect as “many small business owners feel they are the ones being victimized by being forced to drastically increase their payroll expenses overnight,” according to the Standard Freeholder.

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