Curzon Cinema employees celebrated a victory this week in a long dispute over fair pay rates, they voted overwhelming in favour of introducing the London Living Wage and national Living Wage for regional cinemas.
Curzon workers told SW Londoner that it feels ‘surreal’ to have won. Before the agreement they were working long hours on their low salary to support themselves, or struggling to make ends meet when shifts were scarce.
They explained: “It was quite a depressing cloud to carry when going to work.
“We were unable to go out for a nice meal or drinks, or watch a film for free – one of the perks of working in the cinema – as we didn’t want to pay to travel there on our day off.
“Instead, most of us would spend our day off sleeping, doing house work and engaging in artistic projects to remind ourselves why we were living on this planet in the first place. We just didn’t have any purpose anymore.”
“Luckily, most of us have only ourselves to take care of. We can’t imagine how it must feel to be a cleaner or a bus driver in this city having to support a family. Our story has been no different from any other workers across the globe.”
The landmark move makes it the first commercial cinema group in the UK to implement the Living Wage.
London workers will receive an immediate pay rise to £8 an hour, and regional workers £7, with the Living Wage being introduced from January.
The agreement was endorsed by media and entertainment union Bectu, which has been in negotiation with Curzon regarding the Living Wage for the past year
Curzon staff say there’s been an immediate shift in the atmosphere: “We can already sense a good feeling in the air around the cinema.
“We are looking forward to a new era of working with Curzon, with the help of Bectu, to make our cinemas a better place to work and visit both for the workers and our loyal customers.”
The campaign has attracted strong support from the public, who were asked to put pressure on Curzon CEO Philip Knatchbull by emailing him complaints.
An online petition to gain union recognition gathered around 7,000 signatures.
Their plight was also elevated into the limelight by comedian Mark Thomas, whose attention-grabbing protests included rearranging letters outside the Soho cinema to say ‘Give us fair pay – Recognise the union’.
Mr Knatchbull said in a statement to Bectu that it is ‘very satisfying’ to now be in a position to make the Living Wage a reality.
The campaign has run in parallel to Brixton’s Ritzy cinema, whose bosses u-turned on proposed redundancies this week after they won their own fight for the London Living Wage.