Freshii's controversial cashier is not welcome here, says BC's labour minister

Apr 29 2022, 5:54 pm

A politician in BC thinks that one restaurant chain’s labour practices are anything but fresh.

On Wednesday, April 27, BC Minister of Labour Harry Bains tweeted out a response to a Toronto Star article about Freshii using a virtual cashier.

“It’s been 40 years since BC’s minimum was this low,” wrote Bains. “My message to
(Freshii) is, we will not be turning back the clock on workers wages in BC and they can keep their outsourcing jobs pilot project away from our province.”

Named “Percy,” Freshii’s cashier is – like many of us – working remotely. They’re based in Nicaragua and earn $3.75 an hour, far less than the Ontario minimum wage of $15 per hour.

The practice received a mixed response on social media with a majority of people voicing outrage that this could occur while others defended the practice.

The company that facilitates the virtual cashier system created a Twitter thread to explain its side of the story and how its primary motivation is to help restaurants through staffing issues.

“It’s not about replacing people or jobs. It isn’t about lower pay or working conditions,” they wrote. “It’s about a labor shortage across the restaurant industry.”

For its part, Freshii, a Canadian healthy eating fast-casual franchise, did not respond to Daily Hive for comment.

There are several Freshii locations in Ontario with video-calling devices attached to point of sale devices. When a customer approaches, it lights up and you’re assisted by a virtual cashier in Central America.

According to a corporate filing, the company has “a number of labour optimization programs in development and/or pilot that we hope will further assist partners in managing costs and protecting profitability.”

But “profitability protection” isn’t a strong enough case for the NDP’s Bains, who has seemingly vowed that this virtual cashier program will not fly in BC.

Daily Hive has reached out to Freshii for comment. With files from Daily Hive staff.

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