If you’re not aware, Ontario raised its minimum wage from $11.60 to $14 per hour at the start of the year, with the plan to raise it further to $15 by this time next year. Personally as a worker who lives in the province during the summer I’m happy for the extra cash, but as a leftist I can’t help but see it as a typical dive to the left by the ruling Ontario Liberals in preparation for the upcoming election – as a long-time resident I’ve seen this move before, and unfortunately the Liberals have a tendency to drift right back to the center after getting reelected.
The news was met cynical political maneuvering by both conservative politicians and business owners, who have been pushing their usual bullshit about how giving workers a fair shake will somehow hurt the economy, all while using the opportunity as an excuse to raise prices and cutting workers hours and benefits in order to increase their own profits.
One company which has been particularly ruthless in their efforts to claw back any extra money from ordinary people has been Tim Hortons. The coffee giant has not only raised their prices for the second time in six months, but have been slashing employee benefits like paid breaks, free coffee (which ends up getting poured down the drain anyway, since a new pot of coffee is made every 20 minutes) and even forcing them to pay for their mandatory uniforms. Obviously, this sort of naked corporate greed is nothing new, but what makes this instance particularly noteworthy is how blatant and unabashed the company is in their avarice and lust for more and more profits at the expense of their employees. The news broke online when employees at several franchises owned by Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce, the son and daughter of the company’s co-founders (aka. THE HEIRS TO THE ENTIRE GODDAMN CORPORATION) posted a notice that they received from their employers (for bonus Hatred Points(TM) these tactless, out-of-touch bourgeoisie dipshits sent it from their fucking winter home in Florida).
Another franchise in Whitby was even “kind” enough to spell it out for us – there, the owner told then employees to blame the government for the cuts and said “I encourage you to let [Premier Wynne] know […] that you will not vote Liberal in the coming Ontario election in June 2018.”
These pathetic attempts by a multi-billion dollar corporation to squeeze even more unearned profits from their workers has been met with widespread backlash, from protests and petitions to calls for boycotts and an impending lawsuit, and every bit of it is 100% deserved. To me at least it’s completely obvious that this is about nothing more than rich business owners wanting to protect their profits. Clearly, the company was waiting for an opportunity to implement these changes and simply used this as a semi-valid excuse to do so. They didn’t wait for the normal quarterly review of their financial situation after the minimum wage increase to make the changes and at least attempt to justify it – they did it immediately and blamed the government, then used their position of power to try to influence their employee’s political choices.
It’s naked capitalism at its worst and frankly, it’s beyond disgusting.
I’m not usually the sort of person to support boycotts, mostly because I believe there are more effective ways to influence the world than by giving or withholding your limited capital to big shitty corporations who don’t care about you anyway, but in this case, my populist outrage has outweighed my beaten-down cynicism.
I don’t drink coffee and only rarely visit Tims when I get cravings for overpriced, terrible-tasting doughnuts and cookies or horrifically greasy breakfast sandwiches, but after all this bullshit I’m likely not going to be giving them my business anytime soon. I encourage anyone reading this who feels even the slightest bit of righteous indignation at yet another assault on the working class to do likewise.