© HALEY RYAN - METRO HALIFAX
Former Just Us! employees Elijah Williams, left, and Shay Enxuga, middle, watch Shayna George of Wolfville speak to a crowd of nearly 60 people outside the Spring Garden coffee shop Sunday afternoon.
HALIFAX - About 100 protesters gathered Sunday outside Just Us! coffee house on Spring Garden Road to support two former employees who say they were fired for trying to form a union.
But according to the coffee co-op’s general manager, that played no part in the decision to let the two employees go.
“We made a completely separate business decision that had nothing to do with unions,” said Debra Moore, prior to the protest beginning on Sunday afternoon.
Moore claimed at the time of the dismissals, she did not know a union was in the making.
Shay Enxuga and Elijah Williams were both fired a week and a half ago from Just Us!. Both were also on hand at the protest.
“All they told us was that we were no longer a good fit for the company and that we didn’t have the right commitment to the co-op,” said Enxuga.
Prior to their dismissal, they had been working with SIEU Local 2 to form a union. They say the majority of employees at the Just Us! location voted to join.
“In trying to form a union we just wanted to create a workplace where we could really empower the workers to come to the table and negotiate with our employers as equals,” said Williams.
Both say they had been given positive performance reviews and had not received any warnings prior to their dismissal.
Enxuga said before he was fired, “management had started questioning staff if they knew anything about employees meeting up outside of work talking about unions.”
Jason Edwards of SIEU Local 2 said at Sunday’s protest employees being fired for trying to form unions “happens all the time.”
“We thought here it wouldn’t be so common. I guess I was wrong,” Edwards said of Just Us! coffee.
EMILY KITAGAWA - METRO HALIFAX