Reading Workers' picket rousing show of solidarity
Reading Workers' picket a rousing show of solidarity by 176 Multi-Media
Solidarity was in abundance down at the picket organised by low-paid workers union Unite outside Courtenay Central Reading Cinema in Wellington on Friday. Over fifty people from over eight different unions came to show their support for the cinema workers who are campaigning for a decent wage and recognition of length of service in their workplace. To the rousing tunes of the Brass Razoo Solidarity Band, the high energy picket gave away free popcorn to encourage Reading customers to boycott the candy bar where the cinema makes a massive 73% profit.
An original staff member who had worked for Reading for two and half years was still on the minimum wage. Despite her obvious pride that she worked at the 'best' cinema in Wellington, she pointed out that because of the "unfair" wages "they earn so much off us".
President of the Council of Trade Unions Ross Wilson told the picket "It's a bit rough to find out so early in your working life...that some employers are bastards. And you seem to have a right one here."
Wilson indicated that he had contacted the Australian Council of Trade Unions and promised they would soon be placing pressure on Reading on their home turf if the dispute were not resolved shortly. He assured the workers that Reading have not just taken on them, but "union members around New Zealand".
There was a strong presence from other unions. Union organiser Sheryl Cadman from the National Distribution Union commented that there are "very similar issues in supermarkets...Recognition is an issue for all young workers. Employers exploit youth workers."
Rachael Goddard from the Maritime Union of New Zealand was there because "it is important to show solidarity". Goddard commented further that similar issues faced MUNZ workers because of flags of convenience "multinationals are exploiting workers from other countries in New Zealand waters. It's capital versus people. Always the same story".
Reading Cinema has picked the wrong fight with staunch workers backed up by unions throughout the country and Australia.