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Five reasons why Curzon Cinemas 'Living Wage Employer' title rings hollow!

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We are calling on the Living Wage Foundation to investigate and re-assess Curzon Cinema's title as a Living Wage Employer, to ensure they have committed to and maintained the standards set by the Living Wage Foundation.

After 2 years of paying the Living Wage, in January 2017 Curzon was awarded the LLW employer title. Straight after they gained the title, Curzon took away paid breaks, cut staff hours and moved some of their workers on zero hours contract despite the promise they will move away from exploiting employees by keeping them on zero hours contracts. This has resulted in staff suffering from overall pay loss and has lead to emotional and financial stress, which ultimately leads to staff who are unable to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. This, in turn, means that staff then get micro-managed by line managers, which is very stressful and uncomfortable for staff.

Here are five reasons why Curzon Cinemas Living Wage Employer title rings hollow:

1 - Living Wage Foundation says: "By paying the real Living Wage employers are voluntarily taking a stand to ensure their employees can earn a wage which is enough to live on. That basic fairness is at the heart of what our campaign is trying to achieve and why great businesses and organisations choose to go further than the government minimum".

Curzon did not volunter to pay the Living Wage. Curzon union workers had to fight to get union recognition and the Living Wage for two years. Since then, Curzon have banned the union workers (staff) from using any social media to get their voices heard and to tell the truth about Curzon, for fear of Curzon's reputation being damaged as an ethical living wage employer. Human Resources have made the staff sign the Social Media Policy, so no one can post anything about Curzon. Staff have been warned about this verbally, by Head Office management, right after they started paying the Living Wage.

2 - Living Wage Foundation says: "An independent study found that more than 80% of London Living Wage employers believe that implementing the real Living Wage had enhanced the quality of the work of their staff. Two thirds of employers reported a significant impact on recruitment and retention within their organisation, while absenteeism had fallen by 25% on average. 70% of employers felt that the Living Wage had increased consumer awareness of their organisation’s commitment to be an ethical employer".

The quality of work at Curzon is massively suffering. There are now two tiers of employees; those who get paid breaks and those who don't. This is based on length of service, but we all do the same job! Our responsibilities as general staff are doubling: our job description stretched, hours and shifts have been massively cut, creating tension between cinema managers and staff. Whilst technically, staff may be better off financially, we are paying for it with stress and exhaustion. There has been a massive turnover of staff at the Curzon since the Living Wage was introduced, because Curzon took away benefits and made other departments and employees redundant to make up for the increased cost of paying employees more money. They gave with one hand and took away with the other. Even with paid breaks, we had gone from struggling to pay the rent to just about getting by. With the pay cut, we have been forced to find other means of earning money, further affecting our work-life balance. We feel that any essence of a meaningful Living Wage has truly been forgotten.

3 - Living Wage Foundation says: "For people who are paid the real Living Wage it means the difference between just getting the government minimum and earning enough to afford the things you need to live, like a decent meal, a warm home and a birthday treat for your children".

We don´t get to eat a decent meal because we are short staffed and normally we don´t get to eat lunch or dinner at an appropriate times/when we are hungry, therefore resulting in minor healthy issues like indigestion, fatigue etc. Because of the pay cut from our paid breaks, reduced hours and shifts, we don´t get to be home much as we would like to as we are constantly trying to get more shifts and hours to make ends meet. Those of us who would like to start families can´t afford to have kids with this pay.

4 - Living Wage Foundation says: Full time employees earning the real Living Wage earn £35 a week more than those on the government minimum, and £85 a week in London.

We are technically not getting the full Living Wage rate, because for every six hours of work, we lose £4.87 for 30 minutes unpaid break. Based on the London Living Wage @9.75, the total pay for six hours of work is £58.50. But with 30 minutes unpaid breaks (- minus £4.87), the total amount is actually £53.63, which is £8.94 an hour based on six hours of work. This is NOT London Living Wage pay set by the Living Wage Foundation and because our paid breaks were removed in March 2017 and most of us have lost between £70 - 150 a month. That's more than a £1000 a year.

5 - Living Wage Foundation says: Many employees also report improved job satisfaction. An independent study found that 75% of employees reported increases in job quality as a result of receiving the Living Wage. 50% of employees felt that the Living Wage had made them more willing to implement changes in their working practices; enabled them to require fewer concessions to effect change; and made them more likely to adopt changes more quickly.

We are not satisfied at our job and the quality of the cinema´s working standards have spiralled because there have been recent changes made at our work place, without any input from us or the customers, and the change has been very hard to cope with and adjust to, which has lead to several staff resigning from Curzon and moving to some where with less pay than the Living Wage rate. Curzon Cinemas have also mislead and continue to exploit new employees (General Assistants). When hiring new staff, they advertise Living Wage rate, £9.75 (London) / £8.45 (outside London) for the role. What Curzon does not mention is the probation period pay rate which is £7.50 an hour for the first three months. Only when the new employees are offered the contract do management mention this introductory pay rate. Out of sheer desperation for an income, these new employees are unable to reject the employment offer and reluctantly agree to the low pay. Eventually, if they are really lucky and liked by the management, they are offered a zero hour contract with the current Living Wage pay rate.

Based on the above points, we are calling on Living Wage commissioners and the advisory council to investigate Curzon´s conduct regarding their employee´s pay and welfare and to ensure Curzon understand to the real concept of the Living Wage. We want Living Wage Foundation to put pressure on Curzon to commit to paying the real Living Wage, without forfeiting any of their employees' pay (including paid breaks), benefits and rights. We want everyone to see the real Curzon Cinema´s treatment of their staff, while they boast to the world that they are an ethical company who have their employees' welfare at heart. We want to show the hypocrisy of the Curzon behind their Living Wage Employer title. 

We, as staff, appreciate and value the true cause of the Living Wage Foundation and believe that Living Wage Foundation intervention can benefit workers and make working life better for everyone. Our concern is that we also need Living Wage Foundation to follow up with organisations after they've given Employers the title. It would be beneficial if Living Wage Foundation were to follow up with companies every year, (maybe Curzon need to give a report to Living Wage Foundation on their Living Wage commitment and its impact on staff), so that Curzon maintains the Living Wage standard ethically and not by taking away other financial benefits behind Living Wage Foundation's back.

We feel that we need the Living Wage Foundation's intervention at this stage because Curzon has actually made the situation even worse for their workers in the UK. We believe that Living Wage Foundation should assess a business's conduct after they become a Living Wage employer and remove the title of Living Wage Employer if there is unethical conduct involved. We believe there should be terms and conditions that organisations should have to adhere to, the first of which should be that the organisation should not be able to recoup the cost of being a Living Wage employer by cutting staff hours or taking away other financial benefits.

Curzon Cinemas Ltd are using the Living Wage employer title to promote themselves and expanding their business, both through customers spending and through private hire events, but none of this is passed on to the staff. This defeats the whole purpose of the Living Wage in the first place. 

Please support Curzon Workers by signing this petition and to gain back their paid break by signing this petition. Many thanks for your support. It means a lot them.

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