Socialist Worker

Joint strike at cinemas steals the show in Hackney

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2526

Picketing the Hackney Picturehouse

Picketing the Hackney Picturehouse (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Strikers at the Hackney Picturehouse cinema in east London were boosted by solidarity last Saturday.

The Bectu union members were joined on the picket line by striking workers from the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, south London.

Their walkouts shut down the two cinemas, which are both owned by Cineworld.

The workers are demanding the London Living Wage of £9.40 an hour and maternity, paternity and sick pay.

They also want pay rises for managers and supervisors.

Workers from the Hackney Picturehouse are also demanding union recognition.

There is a feeling that senior management have ignored workers for too long.

Livia, a Hackney striker, told Socialist Worker, “They use the forum, which is a bogus representative body, to deflect our criticism of management.”

Oscar agreed. “In the last vote in the staff forum we rejected their pay offer,” he said. “But the head of the forum completely ignored our decision.”

Bectu branch secretary Alasdair explained that the head of the staff forum is appointed by senior management.

“It’s completely funded by Picturehouse and was set up after our Bectu union got recognition at the Ritzy,” he said.


Around 100 trade unionists and other supporters came to the picket line and brought solidarity over the course of the day.

Antonia Bruce, a Bfawu bakers’ union member from the Fast Food Rights campaign in Glasgow, was one of them.

“It’s so important to join up all our struggles,” she told Socialist Worker. “The cinema workers’ fight is the fast food workers’ fight.”

Dean Ryan from the Unison branch at Islington council was another to offer support. He told the picket line how Unison had a similar fight to get leisure centre staff the London Living Wage.

“But it’s not enough,” Dean said. “If you go down to the estate agents’ window you can see that ordinary people are paying most of their wages in rent.”

Workers have shown that they are determined to win—more strikes can force bosses to give in to their demands.

Alasdair said, “Ideally Picturehouse will come back to us and tell us that everyone will be paid the living wage.

“If not, we’re prepared for a longer battle.

“We’ve got a lot of support—and we’re going to win.”

A win at Picturehouse can inspire other workers to unionise and to fight for decent pay.

Rush messages of support to 
For more information on the Hackney Picturehouse dispute go to Facebook page A Living Wage for Hackney Picturehouse Staff and for more information on the Riztzy cinema dispute go to Facebook page A Living Wage for Ritzy Staff

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