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Judy Haiven: Remembrance Day revisited

Photo Judy Haiven

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Yesterday, I went to a local Tim Horton’s.

I wanted to find out if anything had changed since my article three years ago here.

At that time, I found out that at least one Tim’s location didn’t give the workers the requisite 3 minutes off at 11 in the morning to commemorate Remembrance Day.

The three minutes off is part of the punitive Remembrance Day Act in Nova Scotia.  The Act also demands that every shop, supermarket, service, and store close for the day.  However, businesses which are closed do not have to pay their workers a cent of pay for the holiday.  And for Tim’s and other restaurants or bars that are allowed to remain open, staff work at regular pay and are allowed off another day off with pay. But before you get too excited, know that to get another day off with pay, the employee has to have worked for pay for 15 of the last 30 days.  So employers make sure to schedule staff for Remembrance Day  who have worked less than 15 days in the last month.  Read my article here.

Well this Remembrance Day when I visited a local Tim’s, I met the manager, a pleasant and lively woman.  She assured me she had signs ready to post and planned to close the drive-thru window just before 11.

Photo Judy Haiven

Sure enough, she taped signs to the glass doors, and one to the drive-thru window. It was particularly outrageous to see these words on the signs: “…Remember all of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.” Really? What freedom? Somehow it’s OK to insist — as the Americans falsely do –when they claim they fought for everyone else’s freedom. The manager corralled the handful of workers to stand behind the till, hands clasped neatly in front of them.  For three minutes, a tinny version of the Last Post blared from someone’s iphone.

True no one had to serve a customer; true the employees stopped pouring hot drinks, squirting cream and grabbing donuts.  However I must have been dreaming if I thought management would allow even a second in that three minutes for a staff member to sit down and gulp a coffee.  They weren’t even allowed to stand and drink one.

Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, an organization that fights discrimination, bullying and racism in the workplace.  Contact her at equitywatchns@gmail.com

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