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Savoy Cinema staff protest at owner's plan to usher in new terms

Staff at Dublin’s Savoy Cinema staged a protest outside the premises on Wednesday amid growing tensions regarding the future of its ushers.

Siptu, which represents the workers, said the protest followed a decision by cinema owner IMC to discontinue the usher grade and to cut pay for those filling in temporarily from €12 to €9.

It follows a related dispute regarding the O’Connell Street cinema’s four full-time ushers who remain on €12 but whose future employment is in doubt.

IMC had recently announced it intended to make those positions redundant although the ushers remain in situ until their positions are clarified in future talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Siptu says the future of ushers at the cinema is under threat from changes in technology that will render the role of floor staff, who traditionally take tickets and guide customers, surplus to requirement.

Attempts to reach IMC for comment were unsuccessful.

Dispute

Wednesday’s street protest – which is not an official industrial dispute and is conducted in personal time – applies to other workers in the cinema who occasionally assume the higher paid role of usher.

“Staff who currently undertake ushers’ duties on an agreed rate of €12 per hour have been informed that they will in future be paid only €9 per hour,” said Siptu organiser Graham Macken. “Staff have refused to accept this cut in pay and the company has now contracted security workers to carry out the duties previously performed by directly employed staff.”

Mr Macken said representatives were willing to engage with management on the issue but further protests were likely if an impasse develops.

“The unilateral actions of the company have resulted in extreme frustration and annoyance among the workers. Staff felt they had no option but to mount today’s public protest to highlight their unfair treatment,” he said.

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