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'I was stunned': Employees of recently closed New Glasgow Boston Pizza still owed wages

The Boston Pizza outlet at Highland Square Mall in New Glasgow shut down on Friday.
The Boston Pizza outlet at Highland Square Mall in New Glasgow shut down Oct. 25. - Kevin Adshade

NEW GLASGOW, NS - Former Boston Pizza employees have not been paid for their last four days of work, and are bringing the issue to the Department of Labour.

The last paycheck issued was on Oct. 25, one day before the doors closed at the restaurant chain’s Highland Square Mall location.

“I was stunned,” said Fezanne Carroll who worked there since its opening on Sept. 11, 2017. “I had just been promoted four weeks before, and I was expecting that this was going to go for quite some time.”

Carroll, along with roughly 40 other employees, were informed of the sudden closure via a message through the company’s scheduling app.

“I went to our scheduling app and sure enough there was the email saying don’t come to work,” said Carroll who had been promoted to front of house and bar manager.

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New Glasgow Boston Pizza outlet shut down

The message, which was sent on the day of the closure, also stated that employees who worked shifts between Monday and Thursday that week would be paid on Nov. 9, but none of them received a check or deposit.

Since then, Carroll and number of other employees have reached out to the Department of Labor for assistance.

“It’s not the greatest position, but I’m managing,” said Carroll, who says she has also reached out to the owners in reference to personal belongings still at the Highland Square Mall location, which has since had new locks fitted on the doors, but says she has not received any response.

The restaurant franchise owners, Jan and Troy Relf, are listed as directors of Relf Holdings Inc. with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies. It was previously called Apex Mechanical Ltd. according to the registry.

Their company was incorporated and registered on May 28, 2007. The status has since been revoked for non-payment, most recently in July 7, 2017. Prior to that, the Relf’s company had its registration revoked in 2008, 2014 and again in 2016. Except for 2017, Relf Holings Inc. had its status reinstated each time. However, the company’s status was still revoked at the time that the New Glasgow Boston Pizza was being constructed and employees being trained.

According to employees, problems began to arise shortly after their four-week training period with the Boston Pizza’s corporate trainers was over.

“There were a few things, such as being short on product in our bar as well as in the kitchen,” said Carroll. “We were always told that there was something wrong on someone else’s end. It was never on our end where the issue was.”

Another employee who wanted to remain anonymous said that the restaurant and sports bar went weeks without draft beer or other menu items.

“Some were things that we could go to Walmart for, but we weren’t allowed,” said the employee who has also reached out to the Department of Labour. “They would lock up the little packs of M&Ms because they were afraid we would steal them.”

The Department of Labour said in an email that they are aware of the situation and involved. Employees are encouraged to contact the Labour Standards Division.

Attempts to reach the Relfs were unsuccessful.

Peter Blackwell, Senior VP Marketing & Communications for Boston Pizza said they have been unsuccessful in their many attempts to contact the owners but will continue trying.  

"One of our key messages is to remind them of their obligation to fully pay staff for any hours worked," he said.  "The good news is that we expect Boston Pizza to re-open in New Glasgow in the near future under new ownership who will be in a position to hire back many of the staff who have been impacted by the closure. Boston Pizza plans to again provide both employment opportunities and dining options for the community of New Glasgow once we work through this unfortunate and unplanned temporary closure."

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