Cineworld employees decry company’s ‘abhorrent’ treatment as branches close
Cineworld employees have decried “abhorrent” treatment by the company as they called for financial support after its decision to temporarily close all of its UK cinemas.
On Monday the company officially announced 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the UK would be closed, but the story was already broken by The Sunday Times.
“The way Cineworld has treated us throughout the pandemic has been abhorrent, but to find out you face losing your job from the front page of the Times is awful,” a Cineworld team member who wished to remain anonymous told the PA news agency.
The employee has been with the company for three years on a zero-hour contract.
Another anonymous employee, from Cineworld’s Warrington branch, said the atmosphere at work over the last two days has been “awful”.
“People were crying, many worried how they will pay bills next month,” they said.
“The way we have been treated over these past months is disgusting.
“We have lived in constant fear… as hours have been cut significantly and many of us only just surviving on furlough pay.
“They underpaid us on furlough many times… they incorrectly calculated many of our furloughs too, and didn’t communicate information whatsoever for many weeks.
“I will not be returning to a company that disregards us completely – (Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger) still takes his million-pound salary and the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.”
The worker described her Warrington team as “amazing”, adding: “I am hoping for a miracle for all of us.”
In an interview with Sky News on Monday Mr Greidinger said he sees his employees as “a big family” and they will return to work “very, very soon”.
“I hope they will be supported by all kinds of Government plans and we will try also in some of the ways that we can to support in special cases,” he added.
Conner Morris, 24, from Cambridgeshire, has not returned to work since being furloughed from his Cineworld branch in mid-March and decried an “absolute lack of communication” from the company.
“They keep sending us letters saying we’re all in this together, but it was days before my branch reopened that I even discovered I wasn’t going back yet (from furlough),” he told the PA news agency.
“We’re already on low incomes, already on zero-hour contracts and now to get this suddenly.
“It’s not just students and young people that work at cinemas, there are lots of team members who have children, houses and rent to pay.”
The Government’s furlough scheme finishes at the end of the month and provided workers with 80% of their usual pay.
To match this Mr Morris’ landlord allowed him to pay 80% of his rent each month, with the agreement he would pay back the difference when he was back working again.
Due to the closures, he is now unable to return to Cineworld to pay the landlord and despite applying for other jobs in the area during furlough has not received responses.
“If you can’t run a business without treating your staff right, without a real living wage, without job security and without using them as utilities to make money… you can’t run a business successfully,” Mr Morris added.
PA contacted Cineworld about its employees’ comments but had not received a response by the time of publication.