'We were really buzzing'

Unite rep and Glasgow Film Theatre worker Euan tells UniteLive why he's thrilled his employer has voluntarily recognised Unite - and how your workplace can unionise too

Reading time: 5 min

Last week, Unite announced that it had signed a landmark union recognition agreement with Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) – the first cinema in Scotland to voluntarily do so.

The recognition agreement, which covers staff working in GFT’s front of house and cleaning teams, will formalise collective bargaining and negotiation on their pay and relevant workplace policies.

UniteLive spoke to Unite rep and GFT worker Euan Green, who said he was delighted that their employer had agreed to recognise Unite.

Euan, 26, said that their road to recognition was a positive one because “GFT had always been open to the idea of us joining a union”.

Euan, who works front of house at the cinema, said it all started with a meeting with Unite lead organiser for hospitality Bryan Simpson. While staff had always had a positive relationship with management, workers did want clarity over their contracts and were hoping management would be open to changes, such as shortening probationary periods and being more transparent over sick and holiday pay.

After speaking with Bryan, the workforce was convinced that Unite was the union to join. And while Euan and his colleagues had a supportive employer, it did take some time to get all staff on board with the idea.

“The majority of people were very open to joining the union,” he said. “Understandably some were a bit reluctant, because they had this idea in their heads that by joining a union you had to be pitting yourself against the employer – but with good, progressive employers that doesn’t have to be the case.”

Euan added that it took lots of work having continued conversations with work colleagues – to get them over the line from general agreement with the idea of forming a union to actual commitment.

But thanks to both members’ organising efforts and a willing employer, they’ve collectively made history with their union recognition agreement.  

“We were really buzzing when we learned that GFT would be voluntarily recognising our union Unite,” Euan noted. “It showed that our employer is committed to engaging with us and improving things for us as workers. To see that in writing was really encouraging.”

Euan said he has high hopes for the future – he’s hoping that with the union recognition agreement, “we’ll have open dialogue and constructive, positive talks between front of house and the offices next door”.

“We’re also hoping there’ll be more opportunities for us,” he explained. “Many of the people who start work at GFT have a real passion for films, and we’re hoping that this could be a gateway to move up in the organisation. That would be a really positive step.”

Euan said he encourages all hospitality workers to join a union – and he calls on hospitality employers to embrace the idea if they want to work together constructively.

“My message to other workers in the industry who are aiming to unionise their workplace is to be patient,” he said. “It does take time to get everyone on the same page. Also, unoinising your workplace doesn’t have to be seen as a backlash against your employer. It can be a positive thing. Just look at the issues you’re having at work, consider ways they can be improved and see joining a union as the most effective way to change your workplace for the better.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham hailed the union recognition agreement with GFT. She said, “Following months of positive negotiations between our Unite reps and GFT management, we are delighted to agree collective bargaining at one of the country’s leading cultural institutions. This is a landmark agreement which is already producing positive impacts on the jobs, pay and conditions of our members. The GFT is not only one of the best cinemas in the country to visit but also work for following this exciting development in the sector.”

You can find out more about this landmark agreement between Unite and the Glasgow Film Theatre here. If you and your colleagues are interested in joining Unite Hospitality, read more here.

By Hajera Blagg