ON THE EVE of its annual general meeting this Sunday 15 January 2014, the Rio has ignited a major row with its underpaid staff. Through their union, the workers have complained to the Central Arbitration Committee that the cinema’s management is withholding information in order to deliberately impede collective bargaining.
Sofie Mason, of Bectu (Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union), told Loving Dalston that during pay talks its negotiators had been as conciliatory as possible towards the cinema’s negotiators. BECTU’s representatives had tried to rebuild a positive two-way relationship after last year’s months of confrontation.
She said: “We had high hopes of at least a constructive conversation developing but it became apparent that the same old stonewalling and disrespect of staff were still very firmly behind the board’s surface civilities.”
The only way forward was to ask a neutral body to adjudicate; hence the approach to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC, formerly Acas).
Among the complaints was that the employer’s side had failed to provide any indication of when the Rio would share financial information during collective bargaining. Mason told Loving Dalston that the Rio claimed the union could not be trusted with such information but had not explained why.
The employers had also failed to indicate what the Rio understood pay and hours to mean even though pay, hours and holidays were topics that fell under the collective agreement. Instead, the Rio had insisted that sick pay and guaranteed hours could not be discussed.
Neither had the employer provided any minutes of the two collective-bargaining meetings held on 26 October 2016 and 20 December 2016, which had hampered union reps at the Rio in their efforts to report back to members.
Rio staffers will be hoping that members who attend the AGM will encourage the Board to take a more grown-up approach to industrial relations . Mason said: “This is a community cinema where staff are as interested and as knowledgeable as the managers in how best to embed The Rio in the heart of the community it serves. Their voices should be heard and their opinions treated with respect.”
The Rio was not asked for a comment. It has a policy of non-co-operation with this site.
David Altheer 110117
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