December 21, 2015 15:56 ET

Rally for Justice at Richtree

Richtree Markets Refuses to Transfer Workers from Soon-to-Close Location; Workers Protest What They Say is Age Discrimination

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 21, 2015) - After an announcement about the impending closure of their restaurant, workers from the Richtree College Park held a protest outside Richtree's Eaton Centre location Monday afternoon.

Joined by members of their union, UNITE HERE Local 75, as well as community and labour supporters from across the city, the Richtree College Park workers described the company's denial of their request to be transferred to the busier Eaton Centre location, and spoke out against what they describe as age discrimination.

"Last fall, Richtree held a job fair for the Eaton Centre location just days before announcing to the Richtree College Park workers we'd all be losing our jobs," said Lina Maglines, a Team Leader at the Richtree College Park with decades of experience. "We have years of experience behind us - why is Richtree denying our request to transfer to another nearby location?"

Many of the workers are filing age discrimination charges with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

"We've worked hard to build our jobs into good jobs, with fair wages and decent benefits. All we want is for Richtree to transfer us to their Eaton centre location, where we can keep working hard and providing for our families," explained Maglines. "We've helped the company prosper over the years, but now they're paying us back by throwing us aside. It seems like they don't want to keep older workers around, even though we've committed so much time to their success."

UNITE HERE Organizing Director David Sanders says older, more experienced workers can often feel vulnerable when their workplaces go through significant transitions. "It's critical that we support more senior workers when closures and down-sizing take place. Employers often look to decrease labour costs by targeting the higher pay of more senior workers, but this creates a downward spiral of low wages and high turnover."

Sanders points to the provincial government's ongoing Changing Workplace Review, which is currently in the process of reviewing the Employment Standards act and Labour Relations Act. "The provincial government is trying to address the growing crisis of precarious employment, and we're seeing at Richtree exactly why we need urgent action. We have to do everything we can to create and promote good jobs, especially in the service sector."

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