UNISON Newport welcomes Margot Robbie’s support for unions

UNISON will be leafleting cinema goers outside the Riverfront Theatre tomorrow (Thursday), to publicise its ballot for strike action at Newport Live and how leading a Hollywood actor supports unions taking a stand on pay.

Margot Robbie, currently starring in the film Barbie, has spoken publicly about how union members in America are right to strike to improve their livelihoods.

Newport Live employees have drawn inspiration from the actor’s comments and the fact she’s appearing in a major film on show where they work.

Placards at the UNISON leafleting outside the Riverfront theatre at 3.15pm and 6.15pm tomorrow, will include a QR code link to a video of Robbie on the Sky News Twitter feed, endorsing a recent union campaign for striking actors and screen writers.

Newport Live imposed a pay award of 3 per cent from April, significantly below that month’s rate of inflation, 8.7 per cent (Consumer Price Index) and staff say rampant inflation has plunged them into crisis.

UNISON Newport City branch secretary Peter Garland said,

“When Hollywood superstars speak, people listen. Margot Robbie has used her celebrity power to support union members fighting for justice in America. Her words encourage everyone to challenge unfair employers.

“Newport Live employees aren’t asking for the world, just a fair pay rise. They have told their employer they are really struggling financially. They ration the gas and electric they use, have reduced the family grocery shop and pulled their children out of kids-clubs because they can’t afford it. They are desperate.

“UNISON wants Newport Live to hammer out a sensible way forward with us to improve wages so that staff don’t face a daily anxiety about how they can make ends meet.”

Notes for editors

  • UNISON’s industrial action ballot of staff at Newport Live runs from 21 August to 12 September
  • Link to UNISON placards at tomorrow’s event outside the Riverfront Theatre from 3.15pm ahead of the 4pm showing of Barbie and from 6.15pm ahead of the 7pm showing of the same film
  • UNISON submitted its 2023 pay submission to Newport Live in November 2022. The union finally received a response from the employer in April 2023 that they intended to impose a 3 per cent pay award and that there would be no negotiations. UNISON then told Newport Live it would consult with staff on the pay ‘offer’.
  • In this consultation survey of staff, 90 per cent of members voted to reject Newport Live’s pay award of 3 per cent and 65 per cent indicated they would vote for industrial action up to and including strike action. This was communicated to the company and UNISON requested a meeting only to be told, this was not an offer and no negotiations would take place. The company has since refused to alter its position.
  • To inform its pay 2023 pay submission, UNISON also surveyed Newport Live staff between 3.11.22 and 25.11.22 about how they were coping in the cost-of-living crisis. Respondents provided anonymous personal testimonies, which were relayed to the company, including:
    • “Our mortgage is manageable, but utilities are increasingly becoming harder to manage. Petrol, which is needed to get to work, and food costs are beginning to cause a struggle.”
    • “I’m cutting back on food items, buying budget brands, keeping the heating off, trying to drive my car less.”
    • “We really have to think carefully before making a purchase of items that we wish to buy and consider if we really need the item. We no longer eat out and instead are using that money to pay our utilities.”
    • “Cancelling subscriptions, rationing gas/electric and shopping for cheaper food options.”
    • “We are already making cuts in anticipation of the utilities rate rise. Cutting back on food and the amount we would normally use our heating.”


Media contact:

Alastair Gittins UNISON Cymru Wales, M: 07816 53 83 97, E: a.gittins@unison.co.uk