Joint statement: Tim Hortons layoffs are bad for Canada, should have been prevented

Tim's layoffs

Just weeks after 3G Capital, the buyout firm that owns Burger King, finalized its takeover of Tim Hortons, it’s been confirmed that Tim Hortons is laying off scores of workers at the company’s headquarters and regional offices.[i] In December, we issued a statement warning that mass layoffs were likely, and calling on 3G and Tim Hortons to make a strong commitment to maintain pre-merger employment levels. We are saddened to learn that our prediction has come to pass.

The real shame is that any rational observer of 3G’s track record at companies like Heinz and Labatt could see that mass layoffs were part of the plan all along. As one source inside Tim Hortons told the Financial Press, “This is no surprise from 3G — this is what people figured would happen and have been waiting to happen, really.”[ii] The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives issued a report in October outlining the negative consequences that the 3G-Tim Horton’s deal could have for Canadian workers, taxpayers, and small business owners. The study found that the deal would produce minimal economic benefits for Canada, but was likely to result in hundreds of lost jobs, drastic reductions in corporate taxes paid, and increased financial pressure on the small-business franchise owners who operate most Tim Hortons. Now that we see the first elements of 3G’s slash-and-burn strategy rolling out, CCPA’s forecast appears all too accurate.

If there were so many warning signs, who could have prevented this? Minister of Industry James Moore oversees foreign takeovers of Canadian companies and must determine whether they will result in a “net benefit” to Canada. When he announced the government’s approval of the 3G takeover, Moore made a point to emphasize the company’s commitments to protect Canadian jobs and said that the government could take action if the new owners didn’t live up to their promises.[iii] Yet, the commitments that 3G made to the government were extremely weak. The company committed to maintain “significant employment levels” at a headquarters in Oakville.[iv] Apparently “significant employment levels” translates to “we won’t fire all of you.”

In response to concerns about the takeover, Tim Hortons’ CEO Marc Caira said that it would be “business as usual” once the merger was complete, and that “Tim Hortons will still be Tim Hortons.”[v] Mr. Caira received a bonus of $1 million once the takeover was approved, a parting gift that we presume the new owners will not offer to the workers they are laying off.[vi] Business as usual, indeed.

This round of layoffs should serve as a warning to Tim Hortons’ franchisees who depend on support from the company to grow their businesses, taxpayers who expect corporations to pay their fair share, and consumers who expect Tim Hortons to be a community leader in Canada. It’s been business as usual for too long, and it is time that we stand up and demand protection for Canadian jobs.

Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare
Jerry Dias, President of Unifor
Gerry Cadeau, President of Teamsters Local 647

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