Today Philip Knatchbull sent out a standard email in reply to concerned customers.
Here are seven reasons why we feel this response lacks substance and exposes senior management as being out of touch with our current campaign.
1. Philip congratulates himself for not paying us minimum wage. The whole point of the Living Wage campaign is that minimum wage is not enough to live off. Yet another example of Curzon not listening to our needs.
2. Philip defends the decision not to pay us fair wages due to the company 'operating at break even'. In reality there is a huge discrepancy between our pay and senior management's. This needs to be addressed. There is no attempt to bridge the gap. It appears the only way Curzon is willing to save money is by keeping their general staff below the living wage.
3. We believe that if the company is in financial difficulty, now is not the time to embark on a major expansion.
4. Philip says 'We have recently increased wages by nearly 6%'. The truth is, part of the 6% was annual inflation. He continues: 'we intend to introduce enhanced benefits and incentives soon.' Enhanced benefits have no impact on our living costs and again show how Curzon are not attending to our needs and concerns. One such 'incentive' was revealed at our recent forum meeting. This will be a 'party lottery' whereby one lucky staff member from across the chain gets to mingle with head office staff at one of their regular parties.
5. Philip goes on 'We also want to ensure that our employees are well represented and have a voice in our organisation.' In fact our established staff forum has recently been restructured; the number of reps per cinema has been halved. The forum now serves as a series of presentations from head office staff, rather than the dialogue we had in place earlier this year.
6. Furthermore in the first of these forum meetings head office made promises they have since gone back on. We have yet to see anything, even simple solutions to problems, followed through.
7. Philip has been CEO of Curzon for seven years and this is the first time he has ever acknowledged his staff or suggested implementing incentives.
Thank you to everyone who emailed Philip Knatchbull to prompt this response.
Here is the full text of Philip's email:
Thank you for your email and apologies for taking a while to respond.
We value our front line staff for their enthusiasm and knowledge of cinema and we regard it as positive when customers are motivated to support them, although of course we don’t like being on the receiving end of some of the criticisms that have been put to us, so would like to explain our position.
The London Living Wage
We want to reward our people as well as we can. We are not a minimum wage employer and already pay some of the best rates for cinema staff. We would like to pay the London Living Wage but have to deal with commercial realities. We have not made profits over recent years and are operating at break even. The additional cost of the London Living Wage would push us into unsustainable losses that, in the long term, could be a threat both to jobs and our ability to offer the diversity of films that are our core purpose.
Working with our staff and customers we are trying to develop ways to enhance the cinema-going experience and to increase box office revenues so that we can increase wages and at the same time keep our business viable. We have recently increased wages by nearly 6% and we intend to introduce enhanced benefits and incentives soon. Thereafter our aim is to move as quickly as we can towards being in a position to pay the London Living Wage on a sustainable basis.
We also want to ensure that our employees are well represented and have a voice in our organisation.
We recently set up an Employee Consultation Forum, which enables our employees to channel their views through their democratically elected representatives so their anonymity is protected. This is a meaningful forum that carries weight and we act on the feedback.
In addition to this, we have started a process of engagement with BECTU, which we hope will lead to a mutually acceptable voluntary recognition of the union. If this cannot be achieved then our employees will have the chance to choose their representation via a ballot.
Additionally, you might be interested to know that we are also looking at establishing a forum whereby we can listen to the views of our customers on all aspects of our operations, our programming and the cinema-going experience and to talk to them about planned initiatives and hear their feedback.
I hope this reassures you of our good intentions. We will keep our customers informed of developments, meanwhile, please bear with us as we attempt to provide a solution. We will be issuing further news soon, and so we will make sure our customers are all included.