Remembrance Day means your pay cheque may be 20% lighter than last week’s…

This Remembrance Day, Fri. Nov. 11, I’ll head to my local Tim Horton’s just before 11 a.m.

I want to find out if anything had changed since my article several 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 10.59 in the morning to commemorate Remembrance Day.

White crocheted poppy, symbol against war and for peace. This one made by Kathrin in NS Voice of Women

Under NS Labour Standards, Remembrance Day has its own act. The three minutes off is part of the punitive Remembrance Day Act in NS.  The Act also demands that every retail shop, supermarket, school, public office, and service, must close for the day*.  However, businesses which are closed do not have to pay their workers a single cent of pay for the day the business is closed.  If the business or service is unionized, then the collective agreement might give the workers the day off with pay.

As for Tim’s, and other restaurants, cafés and gas stations that are allowed to remain open, staff work at their regular pay for the hours they work, but are allowed another day off with pay. The same applies to bars – which can open from 12 noon.

However, before you get too excited, know that to get another day off with pay, an employee has to have worked for pay for 15 of the last 30 days.  So many employers open on Remembrance Day make sure to schedule staff on that day who have worked fewer than 15 days in the last month. That way, the staff will not get the day off with pay.  Included in this list is the almost spanking-new Halifax YMCA.   Read my article here

This photo from CBC Business News shows a Tim’s trailer being loaded up and sent back home, when the Canadian base in Kandahar, Afghanistan closed in 2011. A marketing student at UBC’s Sauder School of Business posted it on his blog and wrote: “Although I may not be supporting the Troops with my own money, by buying a coffee from Tim Hortons and knowing what they are doing, it makes me feel good about myself.” Heart-warming. Not.

This Remembrance Day, when I visit my local Tim’s, perhaps the manager will tape signs to the glass doors and the drive through to say there will be no service for several minutes starting at 10.59 am. 

Then the manager may corral the handful of workers to stand behind the tills, hands clasped neatly in front of them.  In 2021, during the three minutes, the manager blared a tinny version of the Last Post from her iphone.

Free Tim’s coffee and baked good on Remembrance day for veterans and those who serve: this was in 2013. Note the donut is shaped like a poppy.

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

*Drug stores (not in supermarkets) are allowed to remain open, as are convenience stores. 

Please note: Remembrance Day is the imperialists’ holiday. Sorry to say, I won’t wear a red poppy because it stands for war, and celebration of war. I’ll wear a white poppy given out by NS Voice of Women. Of course tens of thousands of Canadians died in service to this country and to “empire” and that is tragic — but we have to learn from it. Read this blog post by Yves Engler.

Featured Image: Bomb Crater Behind Vimy Station, 6 June 1919 by David Milne, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

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