Les Miserables in Aotearoa

Last Wednesday (30th, January 2013) Event Cinemas Highland Park closed its doors for the last time.

Outside, some of the workers (many of whom have been laid off due to the closure) engaged in an impromptu Les Miserables re-enactment with red flags and placards.

The biggest tragedy is the pathetic redundancy pay. Just two weeks pay for all laid off employee. This has been offered by management to workers who have served as many as 17 years. This is pathetic compared to other Western nations that have redundancy pay set in law often calculated at an extra week or two weeks pay for every year worked.

This struggle has quite a few parallels with Les Miserables where the poor find themselves repeatedly victimised by the rich despite already being significantly disadvantaged.

Here are workers who simply want to support themselves and often their families while a company with plenty of money to spare tries to maximise profits once again at the expense of workers.

When a group of workers attempted to meet with management on the 29th of January accompanied by supporters and Unite Union staff they were turned away and asked to immediately leave the premises. Workers deserve more than this.

The workers themselves have not lost hope and have decided to use this opportunity to bring the issue of redundancy pay into the open for the benefit of all workers. The struggle that Highland Park cinema workers are leading could have lasting implications for New Zealand workers. Redundancy pay is taken for granted in many Western countries but in New Zealand it is left up to the employer to decide the amount allocated when a worker is made redundant.

By struggling together we can force bosses and the government to pay us a decent redundancy. A solidarity event is planned for 5pm Thursday 7 February at Event Cinemas Queen Street. Facebook details here.

-Bruce, SA


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