I worked for eight years at Tim Hortons and only left because I went on disability. People talk about it being an easy job, you just have to stand at the cash register, but it’s not. You have to gauge how much coffee you need to have brewing and good luck if you underestimate because each pot takes five minutes. Heavy garbage bags need to be taken out back to the dumpster and boxes of cups and lids need to be brought in from the storage area.
It’s a job where you are on your feet for eight hours a day, aside from two fifteen minute breaks. Fifteen minutes. Picture eating your entire lunch in that time, as well as using the washroom and heating any food. And you’re expected to be back on the floor at the fifteen minute mark.
This is a job where you are constantly moving around. I have a Fitbit and I used to always hit my 10,000 steps at work. Every single shift. Some busy shifts, I hit my step goal before lunch.
Staff members are not allowed to talk to each other while on the floor. Even if it’s dead and there isn’t a single customer in sight. Even if you’re cleaning while you talk. The owner doesn’t like it. So if it’s quiet, there are tasks to do. Squeezing into the space the garbage can usually sits to clean the walls. Getting up on ladders to clean shelving units. Scrubbing fly specks off the menu boards. Sweeping the parking lot. Actually, sweeping the parking lot and changing all the outdoor bins was my daily job, which I enjoyed because it gave me a break from people.
I liked the people I worked with. I even liked the managers and supervisors. But I hated the don’t talk, don’t question attitude. Once every couple of months the owner would waltz in. He knew who we all were, I’ll give him that, but otherwise I have no idea what he did other than deep sea fishing. He must have done something but it was the managers I saw writing schedules, ordering supplies, and getting our paycheques ready.
In Ontario, Kathleen Wynne has raised the minimum wage up to $14/hr from $11.60. It’s then going to increase to $15 next year. The owner of my store used to time our yearly review and raise to coincide with the minimum wage increase. As if he couldn’t afford to give us a 20 cent an hour raise on top of the minimum wage. This increase jumps the hourly wage up by $3.40, which is quite the raise. Talk about happiness for the workers, many of whom are mothers who could use the extra cash.
But not so fast. The owners are revolting. How dare they be expected to pay their staff anything near a living wage? They’re ranting about no longer paying for fifteen minute breaks, which is unethical. They’re also demanding that all tips go into the cash register, which is illegal. But who cares about illegal when your worker’s $3.40 wage increase are cutting into your deep sea fishing and vacation to France?
I know that Tim Hortons is everywhere and that they’re cheap and convenient. But McDonalds is everywhere too as well as smaller coffee shops. If you have a small local coffee shop, give them a try. It’ll only take an extra minute or two to walk in. Otherwise go to McDonalds or Starbucks. They haven’t complained about the wage increase yet.
There’s one thing the owners and CEO understand and that’s money. If it starts dropping they’re going to want to know why. And if people are being vocal about their attitude toward the raise, maybe they’ll pipe down and stop trying to screw over their employees. They are very easy to contact via email and that will let them know how the customers feel.
Edited to add: It looks like Tim Horton’s head office is scolding the owners who are planning on cutting paid breaks and taking tip money. Hopefully they’ll convince the owners to follow the law.