Cineplex ups offer to projectionists

TORONTO — Cineplex Odeon Corp. has sweetened its offer to locked-out projectionists in Ontario, grant-ing full-time employment to 42 of them — more than half of approximately 75 working at its theaters.

The Toronto-based theater chain has proposed a 15% to 17% wage cut to a range of C$25,480 to C$29,120 ($18,600 to $21,257 U.S.) from the current average salary of $21,900 to $29,200. Cineplex said its proposed wage scale is consistent with industry standards in North America.

Job-retraining offer

To projectionists whose jobs will be eliminated, Cineplex has offered access to a $146,000 job-retraining fund, which would provide up to $4,380 for each individual over two years and a severance package of one week’s salary per year of service, up to 26 weeks.

Cineplex locked out Local 173 of the Motion Picture Projectionists Union on Oct. 26 after failing to make progress in negotiations since the contract expired Jan. 1, 1996. The company argued that the projectionists’ work has been largely eliminated by technology and that automation performs all necessary functions with the exception of threading the projector.

Local 173 represents projectionists working at Cineplex theaters in Toronto, Sudbury, Ottawa, Kingston, Thunder Bay, St. Catherines and Niagara Falls. Labor actions have become increasingly tense over the past few weeks, including an incident on Christmas Day when picketers tried to chain the doors of a Toronto theater screening Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet.”

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