Last Wednesday (the 30th of January 2013) Event Cinemas Highland park Theatre Closed its doors for the last time outside some of the workers (many of whom have been laid off due to the closure) engaged in an impromptu Les Miserables Re-enactment with red Flags and Placards. But the lay-offs are not the biggest tragedy rather the pathetic redundancy pay, Just two weeks for all laid off employees, that has been offered by management to workers who have served as many as 17 years. This is pathetic compared to other western nations that have redundancy pay set in law. This struggle has quite a few parallels with Les Miserables where the poor find themselves repeatedly victimised by the rich despite already being significantly disadvantaged. Here are workers who simply want to support themselves and often their families while a company with plenty of money to spare tries to maximise profits once again at the expense of workers. When a group of workers attempted to meet with management on the 29th of January accompanied by supporters and Unite union staff they were turned away and asked to immediately leave the premiss New Zealand workers deserve more than this.
The workers themselves however have not lost hope and have decided to use this opportunity to bring the issue of redundancy pay into the open for the benefit of all workers. The struggle that Highland Park cinema workers are leading could have lasting implications for New Zealand workers redundancy pay is taken for granted in many western countries but in New Zealand it is left up to the employer to decide the amount allocated when a worker is made redundant. I would argue that only by taking power into their own hands can workers archive such conditions.
A Solidarity event is planned for the Thursday the 7th of February at event cinemas Queen Street.