Socialist Worker

Scabs are the real beasts for fantastic strikers at Picturehouse cinemas

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2531

Picketing the Ritzy in Brixton, south London

Picketing the Ritzy in Brixton, south London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers at Picturehouse cinemas in Brixton and Hackney in London struck last week in their long-running fight for decent pay.

They timed their strikes to coincide with the release of the new film Fantastic Beasts for maximum effect.

Brixton workers struck for five days, from Thursday of last week to Monday. Hackney struck on Friday, Saturday and Monday.

On Monday, bosses shipped in managers to work at Hackney to cover the shifts and undermine the strike.

“People were nervous about the company bringing people in to do our jobs,” a Hackney Bectu union rep told Socialist Worker. “But as the dispute has gone on, people’s nervousness has melted away.”

A worker at the Ritzy in Brixton agreed, “Every time we go out it feels like we’re getting more bonded.”

That new confidence will be tested by management’s latest move.

Strikers have worked hard to build support for the dispute in the local area. The strength of that support was put to the test on Monday.

Workers appealed to the local trade union movement to build their picket line, getting supporters to help disrupt the film screenings.

Management changed the times of film screenings to avoid the pickets.

But workers got down to the cinema in Hackney early to explain to customers what was going on and tell them not to go in.

Brixton Bectu rep Nia told Socialist Worker, “They could have paid us the London Living Wage already with the amount they’ve lost so far in the dispute.”

It’s clear that management will resist strikers’ demands.

The strikebreaking is an attempt to stop the union spreading action to different sites.

Go to for more information about the Hackney Picturehouse dispute

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