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Mar 23, 2020

Cineplex laying off thousands, instituting pay cuts in wake of virus outbreak

Cineworld deal in question as Cineplex closes its theatres

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Cineplex Inc. is temporarily laying off its part-time employees in the wake of the company’s decision to close all its locations through at least Apr. 2 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Cineplex did not confirm the exact number of layoffs to BNN Bloomberg, but a spokesperson said they numbered in the thousands.

The company said it is taking steps to support impacted workers. In an email to BNN Bloomberg, the Cineplex spokesperson said the theatre and entertainment site operator is paying part-time workers who do not qualify for employment insurance benefits a lump-sum equal to what they would have received from EI for two and a half weeks. The company said its intention is to rehire the impacted workers once normal operations resume.

Cineplex’s full-time employees and senior executive teams, meanwhile, are taking a pay cut during the disruption. The company is instituting a salary reduction program for a limited period of time, with reductions corresponding to their seniority. The senior executive team is taking an 80 per cent reduction.

“With the temporary closure of our network of entertainment venues and the majority of our full-time employees working from home, our focus was able to shift to safeguarding the long-term stability of our business and our readiness to return once the crisis has passed,” wrote Sarah Van Lange, Cineplex’s Executive Director of Communications, in the email to BNN Bloomberg.

The moves comes as questions swirl over the fate of the theatre operator’s plan to sell itself to U.K.-based Cineworld Plc. The company reached an agreement to sell itself for $34 a share late last year, but warned on Mar. 16 the COVID-19 fallout could impact its ability to stay in line with debt conditions included in the agreement. Shares of Cineplex have plummeted amid the uncertainty, falling well below the $34 per share takeout price.