Saint John Bakery workers left with out pay after enterprise closes

Saint John Bakery workers left with out pay after enterprise closes

Former workers of the Saint John Bakery say they’re nonetheless owed cash for time labored within the enterprise’s ultimate days. 

The bakery paused operations at its 4 areas in late January. On Feb. 2, the locks have been modified on the east aspect location after the corporate did not pay the hire. 

The west aspect location, in Lancaster Plaza, can be closed, as is the stall within the Saint John Metropolis Market and a Grand Bay-Westfield location referred to as the Village Sq. Bake Store.

There have been 21 workers throughout the three Saint John areas, in line with Emilly Nunes, a former supervisor. Nunes was uncertain what number of workers labored on the Grand Bay outlet.

The enterprise offered quite a lot of baked items, comparable to baguettes, dinner rolls and pies, in addition to sandwiches.

A woman with brown hair takes a selfie in her snowy backyard.
Leeza Helmer stated she’s had hassle sleeping due to the cash she says she’s lacking. (Submitted by Leeza Helmer)

CBC spoke to 5 former workers who say they’ve but to obtain between $500 and $2,000 in wages, trip pay or severance because the bakery shut down, and so they have not been in a position to attain Stuart Howe, the corporate’s proprietor.

“I have never actually been sleeping a lot simply because I have never had the cash to just about be capable of reside,” stated Leeza Helmer, who stated she’s owed round $1,000. 

She stated the dearth of wages has been impacting each a part of her life. 

“I used to be late paying hire and my hydro invoice, I have been making an attempt to make amends for that. I have been low on groceries,” Helmer stated.

She is certainly one of a number of former workers who’ve filed complaints with Employment Requirements relating to the lacking pay.

A shot of the closed Saint John Bakery stall at the city market. It's shelves are bare and there's a chain in front of the walkway.
Proprietor Stuart Howe stated he had hoped to maintain the enterprise alive by doubtlessly promoting it. (Graham Thomspon/CBC)

Employment Requirements is a provincial workplace the place workers can file complaints in the event that they imagine their employer might be in violation of the Employment Requirements Act, laws that outlines worker rights in New Brunswick.

A consultant for Employment Requirements informed CBC Information they may not touch upon or verify complaints have been made a few specific enterprise. 

‘Disgrace is overwhelming,’ bakery proprietor

Stuart Howe, the bakery’s proprietor, stated individuals weren’t paid as a result of he ran out of cash.

“To not be capable of pay your group, people who should pay their hire, people who should feed their children, it is — the disgrace is overwhelming,” Howe stated.

WATCH | Former workers and proprietor of Saint John Bakery are struggling after enterprise fails:

Disgrace of failure is ‘overwhelming,’ says bakery proprietor

Stuart Howe believes his greatest mistake was opening Saint John Bakery through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Howe stated he has paid two workers what they’re owed and has began paying again three others, utilizing funds from promoting his private belongings. Not one of the workers who spoke to CBC have been amongst these Howe stated he had repaid, on the time of publication.

Howe stated everybody shall be paid ultimately.

There isn’t any justification for not paying wages if a enterprise shuts down, in line with Daniel Leger, the chair of New Brunswick’s Labour and Employment part of the Canadian Bar Affiliation.

“If an worker has carried out work and so they haven’t been paid, then they’ve a really acceptable criticism with Employment Requirements,” stated Leger, a lawyer at Fredericton-based Pink Larkin. 

Excessive stress for workers

The state of affairs has been distressing for Luiz Vites, an immigrant from Brazil who labored as a supply driver for the bakery since 2021.

“I am actually struggling … it isn’t truthful,” stated Vites. “, we work arduous. We attempt to do the whole lot proper. And particularly for immigrants, we have to pay all our charges.”

Vites estimated he is owed about $1,000 for work and trip pay. 

Michael Deas, a former dishwasher on the bakery, stated he is owed about $500.

A man with a beard and wearing a hood looks off frame while standing in front of storefronts including Saint John Bakery.
Michael Deas stated Saint John Bakery owes him round $500. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

For Deas, being with out pay meant he needed to ask his girlfriend to pay for his fundamental requirements like groceries. 

“And I do know it was actually arduous on her and I did not need to put any further stress wherever else. So I simply tried to handle the place I might and discover my means,” he stated. 

Employment Requirements informed him they have been unable to contact Howe. 

Lack of communication

Deas had additionally been trying to succeed in Howe after the closure, however was unsuccessful.

“Nothing works, like cellphone calls, emails, the whole lot’s simply disconnected,” he stated.

Howe stated he has been involved with some workers and Employment Requirements. 

Ana Cumaru, the bakery’s former manufacturing supervisor whose husband additionally labored on the enterprise, and Emilly Nunes, its former gross sales supervisor, have been fielding questions from workers who hadn’t been paid a couple of days earlier than the momentary closure was introduced.

Two selfies of two women side by side.
Emilly Nunes, at left, and Ana Cumaru are former managers of the bakery who say they have been left fielding questions from workers with little info to share. (Submitted by Emilly Nunes and Ana Cumaru)

The previous managers stated they did not get sufficient info from Howe about what was happening.

“I had a lot of workers that have been like, determined, saying, ‘Emilly, what do I do, like, I am unable to pay my hire, I do not know what to do,'” Nunes stated.

Cumaru stated they might have appreciated an evidence to share with their colleagues.

Howe stated he did not talk as a result of he was panicked and making an attempt to get somebody to buy the enterprise to maintain it afloat. 

“I did not know what to say. I had nothing to announce. And I did not need to jeopardize what we have been hoping we had coming in to save lots of the operation and to save lots of the staff,” he stated.

An image of letter taped to a door.
A discover was printed on the bakery’s east aspect location indicating that the locks had been modified due to a failure to pay hire. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

Trying again on his enterprise, Howe stated he would not have opened through the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I assumed that after COVID we have been going to have growth occasions,” he stated. “We’re not, it is the alternative.” 

He stated he made errors however by no means felt he made a mistake that jeopardized the enterprise or the employment of his workers. 

Inflation made issues worse, he stated and so they streamlined enterprise operations in an try to economize. Howe stated there was a plan to maintain the bakery going however he could not get a mortgage with maxed out bank cards.

“We did not have the money. And that is why I drained the bakery account, I drained my private account, however then I had nowhere to go,” he stated.


Learn More →