Labour board rules in favour of Richtree restaurant workers

Union will continue to work to reinstate former employees
||Last Updated: 01/09/2014

The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ruled UNITE HERE Local 75, the union representing forty restaurant workers, continues to have bargaining rights at the Eaton Centre Richtree Restaurant.

Forty workers at the original Richtree in the Toronto Eaton Centre were dismissed and told the facility was closing. In early September the restaurant opened a renovated restaurant metres away from its original location.

New staff was hired at the new location and the restaurant has been operating non-union in the months since its opening.

“I am not persuaded that in the circumstances of this case, the union’s bargaining rights should be extinguished by a move of some 50 metres across the corridor of the mall to a space only recently labeled with different street, convenience or entrance address that presently has no real existence other than on a piece of paper,” said OLRB chair Bernard Fishbein in his decision.

Teferi Zemene — UNITE HERE Local 75 leader and volunteer union organizer — said the decision was a huge step forward both for Richtree workers and for workers across Ontario.

“Hospitality workers are often immigrants, minorities and people of colour. We come to Canada to work for a better life for ourselves and our families,” Zemene said in a statement. “The board’s decision today means more workers have a chance to achieve the dream that brought us to this country.”

UNITE HERE Local 75 also represents workers at Richtree’s College Park and Bayview locations. Workers at all three locations remain in a strike/lockout position following the OLRB’s decision.

The union continues to work toward the reinstatement of the original workers at the restaurant’s new Eaton Centre location.

“I loved my job, and I enjoy serving my customers,” Nazrul Islam, one of the 40 Richtree workers who lost their jobs at the old location, said in the union’s statement. “We have said all along, it’s not right for the company to push us aside the way they did.”

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