By Ezra Black
A Fernie Tim Hortons human rights incident that helped change the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been settled.
In December 2013, six employees accused a former local Tim Hortons franchise owner of keeping their overtime wages. All the complainants worked at the Fernie Tim Hortons and all were Filipinos participating in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The United Steelworkers (USW) began representing the Filipino workers and filed a representative complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
On Dec. 13, USW announced that a settlement with Tim Hortons had been reached for an undisclosed amount.
“The parties reached a fair resolution to the satisfaction of the parties, including the workers who were employed under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program with the former franchisee in Fernie,” said the USW in a statement.
In April 2014, Tim Hortons took back the franchises in Fernie and the Crowsnest Pass and distanced itself from the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
“We have terminated our relationship with the Blairmore, Alberta/Fernie B.C. franchisee for failing to comply with Employment Standards requirements, a matter Tim Hortons takes very seriously,” said Olga Petrycki, Tim Hortons’ senior manager of public affairs in an emailed statement.
Former franchise owner Pierre Pelletier said, “There’s nothing more that I’d like to do than comment but I’m bound by the agreement.”
USW spokesman Scott Lunny called it one of many examples of employers abusing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
“What was happening was employers were rolling through Temporary Foreign Workers to deal with the fact that they weren’t prepared to recruit hard enough, train enough or pay enough to retain Canadian workers,” Lunny said.