Workers at the Picturehouse chain of cinemas held a demonstration outside the Cineworld cinema firm’s AGM on Thursday of last week. Cineworld is the parent company of Picturehouse.
The workers have been fighting a long-running campaign over pay and conditions. Their demands include the living wage?£9.75 in London and £8.45 outside of London?as well as maternity and paternity pay and sick pay. They are also demanding recognition of their chosen union, the Bectu arm of Prospect, which is only recognised at one site, the Ritzy in Brixton.
Bectu rep John Karney from the Crouch End site told Socialist Worker that at the protest some people went inside to demand Cineworld bosses meet with workers. Tony Bloom, the company chair, told workers the firm would be willing to meet so long as negotiations took place in “good faith”.
“We’re hoping that they’re going to come through on that,” said John.
It’s right to be sceptical given the company has tried its best to ignore workers’ demands so far. It would be a mistake to call off the strikes or step-down the campaign?that is what has got management talking about coming round the table.
It has sent managers around Picturehouse sites to convince workers not to join Bectu, instead pushing the Picturehouse manager-run Forum as an alternative to a union.
Despite this workers are determined to win their demands. “We’re all still committed to pushing on with this,” said John. “We’ve got new plans in the works that we’ll be able to speak about soon.”
Cineworld can afford to pay the Living Wage and workers’ other demands. It’s revenue increased by 23 percent in the period from 1 January to 11 May compared to the same period last year. And CEO Mooky Greidinger took home a total pay and perks package of some £2.5 billion last year.
Bectu has re-balloted five of the six sites involved in the dispute. The result at four of the sites was a 96 percent yes vote on a 56 percent turnout. The Ritzy in Brixton, which was on a separate ballot, voted 94 percent yes on a 72 percent turnout.
The East Dulwich site, which still has a live ballot, is set to strike on 27 May.
Ben Lennon from East Dulwich told Socialist Worker, “The mood is really positive. We’re more up for it than ever before.
“With some great press coverage and more sites set to join the dispute soon we feel the momentum is on our side.
“This isn’t just about Picturehouse, it’s about all underpaid workers.”