Socialist Worker

Five Picturehouse cinemas to strike on Saturday as company recruits strike-breakers

by Andrea Cecioni, union branch secretary at Picturehouse Central
Issue No. 2549

Hackney and Brixton Picturehouse workers picketed together last October

Hackney and Brixton Picturehouse workers picketed together last October (Pic: Guy Smallman)


In a repeat of one of the largest strikes in British cinema history, five Picturehouse cinemas will strike simultaneously this Saturday, 15 April.

Workers at Picturehouse cinemas have been striking since September for the Living Wage. This is currently £9.75 an hour in London, £8.45 elsewhere, as set by the Living Wage Foundation.

Picturehouse managers continue to refuse negotiations despite owner Cineworld announcing £93.8 million profit for 2016 last month.

Saturday will take the total number of strike days at Picturehouse cinemas in the last seven months to over 40.

It will be the first strike day for the BECTU sector of Prospect members at East Dulwich Picturehouse. They will be walking out at 1pm. They will be joined by staff from The Ritzy (Brixton), Hackney Picturehouse, Crouch End Picturehouse, and Picturehouse Central, who will be demonstrating outside the cinema.

In most cases, Picturehouse has opted to keep cinemas open during strikes, drafting in workers (including managerial staff) from other cinemas. In advance of the most recent strikes on 31 March, Picturehouse undertook a nationwide advertising campaign looking for new staff.

Hired

They hired and trained a group of workers who were then asked to work their first shifts covering the withdrawn labour of their colleagues. The new staff were told they would not be working at any one specific cinema (unlike most Picturehouse staff who are assigned to one cinema in particular) and that they needed to be available for work at short notice.

Alisdair Cairns, from Hackney Picturehouse commented, “It felt pretty vindictive of Picturehouse to plaster a giant job advertisement all over our front doors when we had been told by managers that we weren’t hiring. We assumed it was so they could publicly declare how much we’re paid, although we don’t think paying below the Living Wage is anything for them to be proud of.

"As it turns out they were recruiting strike-breakers, which is even worse! We feel really bad for the new staff, who hadn’t even been told there would be a strike on that day. What an awful position to be put in without proper warning. It’s so not an acceptable way for Picturehouse to introduce new staff to the company.”

Members of the campaign have been calling for a public boycott of Picturehouse and their owners Cineworld since 25 February and this has been endorsed by many film industry names including Susan Sarandon and Sir Patrick Stewart.

Join the strikers 12.30pm-4.30pm on Saturday 15 April at Picturehouse East Dulwich, 116A Lordship Lane, SE22 8HD. Go to www.facebook.com/events/1865628870324229/ There is also a protest at Hackney Picturehouse (opposite Hackney Town Hall in Mare Street) at 5pm-8pm. Go to www.facebook.com/events/132441010624547/

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