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Cineworld lays off thousands of workers a week after assuring staff their jobs were safe

Britain’s largest cinema chain reported an adjusted profit after tax of £293m for 2018

THOUSANDS of workers at Cineworld have been laid off by Britain’s largest cinema chain, leaving staff unable to afford basic necessities as the coronaviris crisis deepens.

Employees at 99 sites across Britain were called on Wednesday and Thursday to be told of the move – just a week after staff were reportedly assured that their jobs would be safe. 

Staff were told they would be allocated no shifts beyond March 19, with only those with more than two years’ service qualifying for statutory redundancy pay.

The Star was told that some staff with more than three years’ service were given the choice of keeping their jobs, but would see their pay slashed by 40 per cent. 

In emails to staff, Cineworld said that they hoped workers would rejoin them when they reopened, calling the current situation “unprecedented.”

The company would not confirm how many staff were affected, but did say that it hoped to “preserve jobs” and that this was an “incredibly challenging time.”

A spokesman said:  “We value our employees and want to do everything we viably can to support them in these difficult and uncertain times.”

Workers affected have banded together with support from the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu), forming the Cineworld Action Group. 

Staff who spoke to the Star that they would be unable to pay their rent as a result, with some saying they were “in shock.”

With no other source of income available to them, they urged Cineworld to reconsider its decision. 

They added: “This puts many of us in extremely precarious financial situations where we will be unable to afford essentials such as housing, electricity, gas and food. 

“This is by no means a company that cannot afford to pay its staff, however those of us working at the bottom of the company find ourselves the hardest hit.”

Last year, Cineworld reported an adjusted profit after tax of $345.3m (£293m) for 2018, with trade-union leaders condemning bosses. 

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “To let people go at a time like this when they have no other possibility of getting a job will only further add to their anguish in the current climate. 

“This is not the time to take advantage of the situation and prepare for turning a profit once things start to improve.”

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