November 10, 2012
Tim Hortons workers file human rights complaint over alleged 'double doubling'
By Kristy Brownlee, QMI Agency
Four temporary foreign workers employed at Tim Hortons in northern B.C. have filed a human rights complaint accusing their boss of doubling their rent and double-bunking their rooms.
Officials from the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre allege the workers from Mexico were forced to live in two homes owned by their boss, Tony Van Den Bosch. There the workers were alleged to have been double-bunked, each charged $200 a month rent and an additional $200 mid-month as a "tip."
"When Tim Hortons advertises the double-double, I don't believe this is what most Canadians had in mind," said lawyer Eugene Kung in a statement Friday.
The boss is alleged to have received $4,000 a month rent.
Kung said the workers, employed in two of the employer's Tim Hortons' stores, were threatened to be deported back to Mexico if they raised concerns about their working or living conditions, and their boss allegedly held their passports for periods of time. Their employer is accused of calling himself "the owner of their lives."
Kung alleged the boss called the workers names, including '[expletive] Mexican workers are lazy' and 'Mexican idiots.'
"These workers were left vulnerable to a flawed program where the power dynamic benefits the employer and creates a ripe situation for the exploitation of the workers," Kung said.
The centre launched a complaint against the franchise owner and Tim Hortons with the Human Rights Tribunal and the B.C. labour ministry.
B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair said in a statement this was just another nail in the coffin for the country's temporary foreign worker program.
"For decades Canada has been a place of hope and opportunity for prospective immigrants. Instead, through the (temporary foreign worker) program we are throwing away our reputation as a welcoming country for immigrants.
"This is not how workers should be treated in Canada, no matter where they come from or how they got here."
On Saturday morning, Tim Hortons spokeswoman Alexandra Cygal told QMI Agency in an email that the company was "made aware of the allegations contained in a Human Rights complaint against the former Dawson Creek restaurant owner."
Cygal added: "Tim Hortons works with our restaurant owners and various governments to ensure compliance with practices and standards. Tim Hortons restaurant owners hire their own staff and when they have difficulty filling restaurant positions with local workers, they turn to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to appropriately staff their restaurants.
"We donít condone any of the behaviours or allegations made in the complaint.Ē