Cineworld Chief Asks U.K. Government to Reinstate Furlough as Staff Seek Clarity on Pay

Mooky Greidinger, CEO of the Cineworld multiplex group, has written to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asking him to reinstate the government furlough scheme, he revealed in a letter to employees on Wednesday.

The furlough scheme helped the company pay employees when cinemas were forced to close due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the group announced that U.K. and U.S. operations would be temporarily suspended from Friday. The furlough scheme ends in October and from November it will be replaced by a Jobs Support Scheme where employees are required to work at least a third of their former hours. However, with all Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas shuttering, employees are still left in the dark about their financial future in the run up to Christmas.

“I am sorry to say that the new Government Scheme simply does not fit our business at this time and does not help us in the same way,” Greidinger wrote.

Employees will be paid for hours worked, plus furlough pay, up to Oct. 15. No other details are provided around redundancy pay or other deal terms for staff.

In the letter, Greidinger said the closure “was done as part of the plan to ensure that the company remains on solid ground so that we can return in full force again. I truly hope and believe this will be for a short time, and once we open again, and audiences return, allowing us to operate as we used to, we will be able to offer you shifts again.”

The Cineworld Action Group, an independent organization representing the group’s U.K. staff, tweeted on Wednesday: “Many zero hour employees have received a worrying email this evening which offers no clarity at all. Will we be made redundant? Will we be placed on unpaid leave? This has caused nothing but further anguish for those of us desperately waiting for answers.”

“We sincerely hope that the company will finally extend some compassion to us and treat us with dignity as we prepare to close our cinemas for a final time tomorrow.”

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