Thursday, May 23, 2024

Staff at downtown Victoria cafe refuse to work until demands met


Workers at a downtown Victoria cafe are refusing to work until their demands are met.

Staff at Wild Cafe & Bistro, located at 632 Yates Street, refused to go to work this morning after they claimed the owner wasn’t meeting basic employment standards.

According to the employees, of which there are four, they are not being paid on time, the equipment at the cafe is broken or faulty, there has been insufficient coverage and not enough workers, and the owner has been negligible in her duties.

Details of the demands from the striking workers are listed in a post from the Worker Solidarity Network below:

(Worker Solidarity Network)

Wild Cafe staff contacted Industrial Workers of the World for options on what they were entitled to. A representative for the organization, Kyle Hoof, spoke to Victoria Buzz.

“I was called in by the workers to assess the situation and give my opinion on the matter. A few weeks ago they did a march on the boss to demand pay after an employee wasn’t paid for 28 days. In that case, the owner apologized and paid the employee but the behaviour didn’t change,” said Hoof.

“So, another march on the boss and job action is the only fight. The workers notified the boss this morning and today the owner’s son locked the place and took the keys. At this point, it’s at a lockout stage.”

Victoria Buzz reached out to the owner of Wild Cafe, Marla Donaldson, who was calling from Mexico, where she has been for the past four months visiting a significant other.

Donaldson said because of border closures she hasn’t been able to come home. Now that she’s fully-vaccinated she intends to be back on Thursday, July 29th.

Donaldson has maintained that she pays her employees and denies any claims otherwise.

She also refuses claims that the machines are broken, other than the dishwasher, and has said she has remained open to communication about employee’s needs.

According to Donaldson, employees requested for the air in the building to be quality-tested and have also asked for a hygienist to come in.

Donaldson said she doesn’t believe these are necessary as the cafe should be clean.

“I can’t believe what’s going on. I try to keep all the machines up-to-date. There’s a new espresso machine. I told them [Wild Cafe employees] that I’m coming home on Thursday and that we will talk about the issues when I’m home,” said Donaldson.

“I always pay my employees two weeks at a time, and these employees have only worked for me for two months. I haven’t even met them yet. They expressed how they are all going to school on the mainland anyways, so they were going to leave at some point. I am utterly shocked.”

While Donaldson may be shocked, this isn’t the first time Wild Cafe has had similar complaints.

In 2015, a former employee with Wild Cafe won a claim after the employee was not compensated financially.

Donaldson acknowledged the incident in her interview with Victoria Buzz.

She said that the case was settled in favour of the former employee due to a technicality and that she settled for the mere fact that she could not spend the energy on the issue anymore.

As of this publication, workers are on strike in front of the building and the Wild Cafe is closed.

More to come.

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