Dalston cinema loses fight to keep union out

Rio 010515 © DavidAltheer@gmail.com

A STRUGGLE by staff at the Rio has ended in defeat for the board. Workers at the cinema, above, have the won the right for a union to negotiate for them.

The campaign against the cinema’s refusal of the right to organise ended when the government body for union recognition ordered the Rio to offer it.

Rio staff were inspired to seek recognition by Bectu’s long battle to win the London living wage for workers at the Ritzy Picturehouse and Curzon Cinemas.

By last summer 2014 81 per cent of Rio staff had signed a petition for union recognition. Staff were also applying for Bectu membership, and soon 59 per cent had joined.

Told that union membership  of more than 50 per cent in an organisation or company entitled the union to automatic recognition, the Rio board said it would recognise the union for the legal minimum – negotiation on pay, hours and holidays – and no more.

The members held out for the general manager to be allowed to join – the board resisted. So Bectu national official Sofie Mason made a claim to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for an all-embracing bargaining unit. Mason said: “A very warm thank-you to all members at Rio Dalston for their perseverance, dignity and determination to stay united.”

It was left to the CAC to impose the full bargaining unit.Riosign15 Rio 010515 © DavidAltheer@gmail.com The union has since been helping members at the venue to get Rio agreement on the formal recognition document and staff have held elections for representatives to support members.

The living wage, which is still not being paid at the Hackney Picturehouse, has been one of the first issues raised.

Rio general manager Charles Rubinstein gave the board his notice around the time of the dispute.

His successor, Oliver Meek, styles himself “executive director”. Neither he nor chairman Patrick Lyons has responded to Loving Dalston’s repeated approaches.

David Altheer 200515

* Backstory: Multimillion-pound Hackney cinema Rio’s new boss promises changes; Rio boss quitsRio begs for fundsPicturehouse scores community festival and Millions spent on site given away by Hackney 

* Rio Cinema107 Kingsland High Street, Dalston E8 2PB 

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3 thoughts on “Dalston cinema loses fight to keep union out

  1. Marcia, I’d have thought it was the job of managements to select what’s being shown, not the staff you patronise so snootily.

    It’s nice you think they have the power to make Hackney a happening place but are so condescending about their aspirations to be able to afford to live there.

    I’m sure rubbing shoulders with someone as pretentious and stuck up as you won’t deter them from their efforts to achieve fair treatment.

  2. What a negative headline! Surely the story is about workers winning their fight for recognition, rather than the employer “losing”?

    I toyed with a headline along the line “Dalston cinema staff wins union rights” (which as it happens is the very phrase I used in a tweet) but decided to focus on the employer because it was surprising that the non-executive director-trustees of a community organisation would so oppose collective representation.

    In this case, also, the timing of events suggests the board’s protracted resistance was probably a factor in the departure of its long-standing manager. But we still do not know, because the chairman and CEO have not told the public, even though the cinema now receives some funding from it via Hackney council. – Ed.

  3. I hope that once refreshed with a “living wage”, the employees will take care of this impressive building and ensure that they show the sort of films that will bring the very people they need to guarantee their wages.

    A vibrant cinema in that part of Dalston should be one of the catalysts turning the borough of Hackney around and making it a hip and happening place in which to relax, have fun and socialise.

    Important point, although I thought ’ackeney was hip and happening. – Ed.

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