Event Cinemas denies strike turnout

Event Cinemas denies strike turnout
Photo credit: Facebook / Joe Carolan

Unite Union is calling Wednesday night's strike action at Event Cinemas a success, saying office workers were forced to get behind the counter as dozens walked off the job.

But Event is refuting that claim, saying only 15 employees took the night off countrywide.

"There was no industrial action at the majority of EVENT Cinemas' 17 locations across New Zealand last night," an Event spokeswoman told Newshub, saying the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story went ahead without a hiccup.

"All films screened as scheduled and all customers attended our Midnight Screening with minimal impact."

However earlier on Thursday, Unite Union told Newshub up to 50 employees took strike action from 10pm until 3am, and another 20 refused to sell food or drink.

Photos show a small group of employees standing outside the Wellington branch demanding better pay, with signs reading: 'We deserve a living wage' and 'The workers strike back: these wages are so lo'.

Hannah Shelton Agar, the cinemas organiser for Unite, told Newshub the cinema chain was "certainly irritated" as she knows some people refunded their tickets when they found out about the strike.

"There have been exchanges... We saw lots of office workers of theirs had been pulled down to serve people which they won't have been happy about in the middle of the night.

"It's the first time a lot of people thought about what the wages were of the people who were serving them $20 popcorns and $10 drinks."

But Event Cinemas says there were "no refunds [on Wednesday night]... as a result of the great service delivered by our staff".

In a statement on Wednesday Event said the strike action was "unlawful", and says it has been in negotiations with Unite since last month.

"We have made a proposal for an overall wage increase of 4 percent, which we believe is fair.  This is the highest wage increase that we have ever offered and we understand that the average annual wage increase across all industries last year was 1.9 percent."