One of Toronto's oldest furniture stores just shut down and filed for bankruptcy
Barrymore Furniture Co. Ltd., which has been crafting and dealing custom-made furniture in Toronto for more than 100 years, has immediately ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy.
It is a sad loss given the company's lengthy history with the city, and certainly says something about independent business, today's economy and more — but the most tragic part of the story is that of Barrymore's dozens of workers, who are now left not only without a job, but with tens of thousands of outstanding wages owed to them.
I was proud to stand this morning with the recently terminated Barrymore Furniture employees.— Dr. Jill Andrew (@JILLSLASTWORD) February 6, 2020
Together with @SteelworkersCA, @torontolabour we are demanding employees receive the severance and benefit payments they are owed! #onpoli #cdnpoli #labour pic.twitter.com/LNEs7eGedj
The upscale retailer and manufacturer was apparently doing well until 2018 or so, after which sales fell and its owners consequently decided to file for bankruptcy this January, according to the Toronto Star. A union representative told the Star that workers were given just one day of notice and were not provided any pay for severence, benefits or termination.
In Ontario, an employer conducting mass termination — more than 50 employees within a four-week time — usually must provide at least eight weeks' notice, depending on how many people are being cut. They may also provide termination pay in lieu.
In the case of a business shutting down and especially in cases of insolvency, this rule does not apply, as the proceeding of bankruptcy by definition is to free a business from its debts. Many have long-called for change in bankruptcy laws in Canada in order to protect workers.
The workers of Barrymore Furniture are the latest victims of Canada’s inadequate bankruptcy & insolvency laws that prioritize wealthy investors over employees and retirees. Proud of @theJagmeetSingh for always standing in solidarity with working class Canadians. #EndPensionTheft pic.twitter.com/Zce9ap1dcR— Scott Duvall (@sduvall07) February 6, 2020
Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Barrymore's in-store stock was put up for auction at the Barrymore showroom on Caledonia today to recoup money for creditors, but unfortunately not for jilted workers.
The former employees — some of which have been with the company for decades — are eligible to file claims for unpaid wages with the business's trustee in bankruptcy, among other bodies. A group of the staffers rallied in front of that trustee's office today while the auction took place.
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