A few days ago, I went on Twitter and saw that my employer was trending.
Surprised, I looked through the feed – and that’s how I found out that The Sunday Times had leaked that the cinema chain was closing and I was being fired, along with 45,000 other people worldwide.
I felt undervalued, humiliated and confused.
I have worked at Cineworld for nearly three years as a manager at a busy site. The job saw me through university and I was always asked to progress through the ranks – so I did, thinking that they must care about my role at the company.
How wrong I was.
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Throughout my career there, I have seen a distinct lack of empathy from the higher-ups. I have witnessed single mums on zero hour contracts in floods of tears because they’ve lost their job at a closed site (pre-pandemic).
In hindsight, maybe I should have seen this blunt dismissal coming – to me, it’s now clear that Cineworld isn’t bothered about its staff.
Back in March, when lockdown was first announced, the company fired many of its zero hours contracted staff via phone calls. As far as I know, there was no warning or apology.
They also cut all managers’ pay to 40%. This included my salary.
As we returned to work, upper management came down on us hard. Staff hours were slashed, while the workload doubled and yet they seemed to expect disenfranchised staff to display an unwavering work ethic.
Instead of checking on our mental health and asking if we were OK, they reminded us that everything needed to be up to standard. Staff told on-site managers (my superiors) that they were exhausted, but no help was offered to lighten the load – instead middle management, including myself, were told this was our fault because we didn’t ’empower’ our teams enough.
The new coronavirus procedures were haphazard, unclear and generally miscommunicated during a one-hour meeting at the start of reopening. We were given face masks, but if you lost it you had to pay to get a new one, out of your own pocket.
And there was no new equipment to clean our screens.
The day after the leak, an internal email was sent out from our CEO for what seemed to be me to be damage control. It was titled ‘To our valued team’. Valued? Don’t add insult to injury.
He expressed that it was an accident that the story about potential Cineworld closures had leaked and that this was only an ‘option’ that was being considered. They have now confirmed they will be temporarily closing all 127 of their UK venues.
If they knew the story was going to leak as they ‘declined to comment’, why did we not get a warning?
But above all, why did we not get an apology?
Here’s some advice Cineworld: when taking away people’s livelihood, you should start with a ‘sorry’.
Cineworld have left us in a purgatory in the middle of a pandemic and, to be frank, it’s cruel
Sorry you’re losing you job. Sorry we can’t provide you stability. Sorry we have nothing else to say.
We have now been told that as of ‘Friday the 8th’ all cinemas will close. Firstly, it’s Friday the 9th – it’s nice to see that the people responsible for our professional well-being are paying attention.
Secondly, what about our jobs? None of the staff members I have spoken to have any clue as to whether we’re going to be kept on, furloughed till the end of October or made redundant immediately.
At this point, your guess is as good as mine.
Right now, I feel lost. I am worried about money. If they make us take unpaid leave I will have to quit, leaving me £1,300 short per month. I don’t know if I should hold out for hope or start looking for a new job – but no one in cinema is hiring anyway.
I have staff members who are students and won’t be able to pay their bills without a steady income, families worrying about paying rent and people from all walks of life having been left high and dry.
They aren’t even bothering to ask for help or advice anymore. The situation is almost comical, but there are tears, panic and frustration in the background.
Cineworld have left us in a purgatory in the middle of a pandemic and, to be frank, it’s cruel.
And it’s not just our company. I’ve seen tweets from staff at Vue claiming their head office is useless and are avoiding difficult questions. Meanwhile, I know managers at Odeon are losing their jobs too, with some of the company’s cinemas in UK and Ireland now only open at the weekends.
Without intervention, the industry will crash – everything will be digitalised.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Netflix… but you’ll never smell that freshly-popped popcorn as you step through the doors or feel the world slip away as the lights dim and you get ready for the blockbuster of the year.
Do you remember the feeling you had as a child when the opening scene of your favourite movie started in the cinema? Imagine future children not getting to experience that euphoria.
That’s not a world I want to know.
This situation has been handled atrociously – it’s offensive to a creative and hard-working team. But, we love our cinemas and we love our customers and I can but hope that the Government will step in to help.
Our future is in their hands. So I ask you, prime minister, please save the arts and extend furlough so that we can keep our jobs.
And to Cineworld I say: we might be small cogs in a giant machine – but we’re important, and this will be the last time you underestimate our worth.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Cineworld for comment.
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Credit: Original article published here.