Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tim Hortons: Public Relationss Nightmare

Tim Hortons has tarnished its brand considerably.  The company needs to wake up and smell the coffee.  Its recent actions have disappointed customers who affectionately refer to the restaurant chain as "Timmys."

On January 1, 2018. the minimum wage in Ontario was raised from $11.40 per hour to $14 per hour.  It will increase further to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019.  To offset the increase in labour costs, some of the province's employers have chosen to take punitive measures against their employees by doing away with paid breaks or increasing workers' contributions for benefits  These clawbacks have been put into effect at Tim Hortons restaurants in Leamington. Port Hope and in the Coburg area.
The Coburg Ontario franchises are owned by Jeri Horton-Joyce and Ron Joyce Jr., the married offspring of the company's founders.

In a letter to employees at two Tim Hortons in Coburg, the couple informed staff that as of January 1, 2018, they would no longer be entitled to paid breaks and that they would also be required to pay a portion of the costs for dental and health benefits.

Some background: The first Tun Hortons doughnut shop was opened in Hamilton, Ontario in 1964 by Canadian hockey star Tim Horton and Jim Charade (1934-2009)   In 1967, Horton entered into a business partnership with investor Ronald Vaughan "Ron" Joyce. (Tim Horton's eldest daughter, Jeri-Lyn, is married to Joyce's son, Ron Joyce Jr.).  On February 21, 1974, Horton, 44, died in a single-vehicle crash near St. Catharines, Ontario.  After the hockey player's death, Ron Joyce purchased Horton's share for about $1 million and assumed control over business operations.  Under Joyce's stewardship, the chain was expanded into a multimillion-dollar franchise.  In 2014, Burger King purchased Tim Hortons for US$11.4 billion and the chain became a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International (RBI), an Oakville, Ontario-based holding company.

Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Tim Hortons, has attempted to distance itself from the current controversy and absolve itself from responsibility.  It has said that the decision to pass minimum wage costs onto employees was made by"rogue franchises." and does not reflect the "values' of the company. In effect, RBI has shifted the blame to the franchises.  For their part, individual franchises have told CBC News that they have been forced to reduce benefits because the head office refuses to permit price increases.

A spokesperson for Great White Franchisee Owners, which represents the franchise owners who have been quarrelling with RBI, has defended Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri Horton-Horton Joyce. She declared that "they like many Ontarians, are hard-working small business owners who are striving to keep their businesses viable and keep all their employees employed."  That may be true in many cases, but Ron Joyce Jr. is the son of a billionaire.

In an interview with the CBC News, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne came out with some sharp words in response to  the minimum wage situation. She described the clawbacks as "the act of a bully."  She further stated that "if Mr. Joyce wants to pick a fight, pick that fight with me and not the people who are working at the service windows of the stores."  The premier also said that "Tim Hortons is a really important part of daily life for Canadian families.  But so is having a decent living wage."

I won't mince words here either.  Tim Hortons response to the minimum increase has been petty and vindictive.  It seems determined to make workers or the public pay the price for a wage increase.  Whether one agrees with this increase in minimum wage or not, the company's actions have been unconscionable.  To treat workers in this fashion is simply mean-spirited and unfair.

Yes, I realize that running a business isn't easy, whether it be a large corporation or a small convenience store.  Nevertheless, employees and workers don't have to be on opposite sides of the fence.  It is no secret that well-treated workers are happier, healthier and far more productive. The most savvy employers know that respect is a two-way street.  They know that good relations between business and labour is a win-win situation.  Thus, they strive for what is mutually beneficial.

To be fair, Tim Hortons isn't the only business to react to the minimum wage increase.  Ontario workers at  Sunset Grill, Wimpy's, East Side Mario's and other businesses have been told that they are going to take a hit due to the minimum wage hike. However, it's difficult to accept that large corporations are severely hampered by the minimum wage increase.  According to a report by Jennifer Wells in the Toronto Star, the minimum for Canada's top CEOs is now $5.2 million a year.  The average is $104 million.  Isn't it time low wage workers received a few crumbs?  They have bills to pay and they have to put food on the table.  Their income has to keep pace with inflation.

The situation has prompted a backlash from labour groups and the public.  Demonstrators from Ontario labour unions have turned out at Tim Hortons locations.  A social media movement on Facebook is exhorting people to boycott Tim Hortons on Tuesdays.  All in in all, this has been a public relations disaster for the iconic company.

- Joanne

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How to Make a Blockbuster Film on a Budget

Here's an infographic on how to make a successful film on a limited budget.  It provides tips on how to get funding for a film if you do not have a wealthy backer.  It also provides a list of successful movies that were made on a small budget and facts about their background.  I hope you find it entertaining and informative.  Note: All financial information is give in British pounds.

- Joanne

How to Make a Blockbuster on a Budget? by Moneypod.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Reflections on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's birth.

Today marks the 89th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., a man of grace and eloquence.  Dr. King was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929.  He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, nearly 50 years ago.  Almost a  half century after King's death, his ideals are being challenged worldwide by extremists of the far right.  There is no doubt that we live in turbulent times.  Virulent anti-immigrant parties are spewing their hateful rhetoric throughout Europe and elsewhere.  The President of the United States is xenophobic, racist and misogynistic. Incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia abound and they are being reported constantly in the media.

In the face of all this, we need to hear the voice of reason.  We need to be reminded of what Martin Luther stood for and of his struggle for civil rights.  An assassin took Dr. King's life, but no one can ever take way his dream.  His dream lives on in the hearts of all those who seek justice and equality.  His spirit lives on in all those who stand up  human rights.  His voice can be heard in the choir of those who sing out for freedom.  The beautiful words of King's  "I Have a Dream" speech continue to inspire and resonate.  That is why, to counter all the hateful and ugly rhetoric, I am posting an excerpt from King's speech, which he delivered from the Lincoln Memorial during the historic 1963 civil rights march on Washington D.C.  As the man himself would say., "We shall overcome."

- Joanne


"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Riddles and word plays on a January day

Do you want to put a smile on your face this January day.  Here are some riddles and word plays that should bring you some cheer.  I hope you enjoy them.

What is the difference between roast beef and a car?

Answer:  Roast beef has horse radish and a car has horse power.

The more you take, the more you leave behind.  What am I?

Answer: Footsteps

What has a tongue but isn't able to taste and a soul but doesn't live.

Answer; A shoe

When is a door not a door.

Answer: When it's ajar

I follow you all day but not at night.  What am I?

Answer: Your shadow

Why do the French enjoy eating escargot (snails)?

Answer: Because they don't like fast food.

What did Prince Charming say to Cinderella before she tried on the glass slipper?

Answer: The shoe must go on.

What do you call a scary female horse?

Answer: A nightmare.

What two things can you never eat for breakfast?

Answer: Lunch and supper

What is always on its way here but never arrives?

Answer: Tomorrow

Poor people have it.  Rich people need it.  If you eat it you die.  What is it?

Answer: Nothing

What has branches and leaves and no bark?

Answer: A library


Miser; A person who lives poor so that he can die rich.

Ramification: A consequence that is forced down your throat.

Atom Bomb: An invention to end all intentions.

Opportunist: A person who starts taking a bath if he falls into a river.

Experience: The word people give to their mistakes.

Stalemate: Leading cause of divorce.

Apiary: A sting operation

Transcendental: Above the teeth

- Compiled by Joanne