Coming soon to a cinema near you... Secure hours for cinema workers!

Coming soon to a cinema near you... Secure hours for cinema workers!

By Nadia Abu-Shanab, Cinema Organiser

With a historic law change and international media attention before the fight has even begun, cinema workers are feeling confident about winning greater security around hours in their upcoming contract negotiations.

Unite members at Event, Hoyts and Reading Cinemas will be renegotiating their collective agreements this March and April. One big issue identified in cinema claims meetings across the country was a lack of security around hours.

In last year's contract negotiations, Unite won guaranteed 30 hours for a portion of cinema workers at Hoyts and Event Cinemas. However, many cinema members are still on zero-hour agreements. This means there are no guarantees around their minimum hours.

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Most cinema staff get hours on a week to week basis. After all, cinemas need staff to make them run. The nature of cinemas means some periods are busier than others, and everyone who works in cinemas understands this.  However, many Unite members identified that hours sometimes get cut unfairly. For example, in response to them taking genuine sick/ bereavement leave, or falling out of favour with a manager.

Unite have seen time and time again how zero-hour contracts are used as a tool to punish staff without a fair or proper process. A threat over your hours - your livelihood - is a scary thing, and it often keeps people frightened about talking about their rights at work.

Unite cinema members knew that the contract negotiations presented them with an important opportunity to use collective power to get a better deal. Cinema claims meetings were well-attended and union membership across the companies is up 22% since January. After hearing about how fast food members fought and won the battle against zero-hour contracts, cinema members were feeling quite confident.

But last week, the odds of cinema workers winning guaranteed hours became even greater. In fact, the companies are now going to have to give staff greater guarantees around hours in the next year. Why? Because as of April 1st, 2016, zero-hour contracts will be illegal in New Zealand.

Thanks to the widespread public outrage over zero-hour agreements, and popular support for Unite’s ‘End Zero Hours’ campaign, the government has passed historic legislation to ban them!

On the day of the big news, Newshub reporters were at the Unite Union office as staff and members celebrated. The 6 o’clock news featured an interview with one of our cinema delegates about what an end to zero-hour contracts might mean for her.The news was so big that even top British newspapers such as The Guardian and The Times reported on it. The Guardian wanted to speak to a Unite cinema delegate too. An article in the Guardian which has been shared over 44,000 times features one of our Hoyts delegates talking about how greater security around hours will make New Zealand workers feel more valued at work.

The news was so big that even top British newspapers such as The Guardian and The Times reported on it. The Guardian wanted to speak to a Unite cinema delegate too. An article in the Guardian which has been shared over 44,000 times features one of our Hoyts delegates talking about how greater security around hours will make New Zealand workers feel more valued at work.

The new law change outlawing zero hour contracts might be great news, but we’re still going to have to stand together to win decent pay increases and to ensure we put forward (and win) a fair system for guaranteed hours that actually works for members. It may be early days, but things are off to a good start.