Posted July 17, 2015
There were hot cakes and sausages inside and a grassroots political protest outside a fast food restaurant in Halifax Wednesday morning.
A group calling itself the Nova Scotia Fair Wage Coalition drew about 15 protesters outside the Quinpool Road McDonald’s for an information picket in favour of a $15 an hour minimum wage. The current minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $10.60.
Starting at 7 a.m., the group carried signs and handed out pamphlets to drive-through customers and passersby for about 90 minutes. The coalition is made up of members of the Canadian Federation of Students, Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, the Nova Scotia Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and Solidarity Halifax.
In an interview at the site, coalition spokesman Darryl King said they chose to protest in front of McDonald’s because it’s a big corporation that pays low wages.
“I think we deserve, and they deserve, a bigger wage,” he said.
He thinks small business owners shouldn’t worry about a wage increase, because the added earnings will be spent by those who make it.
“It’s reinvesting back into the economy with spending power. They more they spend, it’s good for small businesses.”
He was not concerned by the turnout that topped out at about 15 protesters.
“It’s summer. You get different actions, different turnouts. It’s good for today.”
King also said he wasn’t concerned that one of their protesters went into the McDonald’s and bought a breakfast sandwich and coffee.
“We’re not going to stop them from going in and getting something to eat if they’re hungry. We’re hoping that this is a start in the right direction to work towards that goal of higher wages.”
King is currently in a training program but previously worked at minimum wage. He said it’s very challenging to get by.
“You’ve got bills, you’ve got cable, utilities, you’ve got to put food on the table, if you’ve got pets then you’ve got to look after their budget. If they get sick, then you’ve got vet bills.”
“A higher minimum wage would alleviate some of those worries, make us feel good about ourselves. The big thing I want to get across to the people is dignity. Give us our dignity.”
Some of the pamphlets handed out by the group say 32.6 per cent of Nova Scotia’s minimum wage earners are over age 35 and almost half of them work for companies with more than 500 employees.
A statement issued by McDonald’s spokesman Jason Patuano said they respect the protesters right to voice their opinion.
“McDonald’s Canada and our franchisees are guided by what is provincially legislated,” he wrote. “In fact, entry-level wages often exceed mandatory provincial minimum wages.”
He said they also offer educational assistance and other incentive programs.
In June, a study conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia said a full-time hourly wage of $20.10 is required for a Halifax resident to have a reasonable quality of life. That figure is based on a 35-hour week for people paying rent, taxes and feeding themselves and young children.
Article by Dan Arsenault for the Chronicle Herald