The Picturehouse chain of cinemas has suspended eight trade union reps at two of its sites in London.
The news came last week as workers at four sites were gearing up for two days of strikes.
It was a cynical attempt to break the union at its strongest sites and gut the organisation which workers have fought so hard to build.
But workers weren’t intimidated.
The strikes went ahead, hitting the Sundance film festival, held at the central London Picturehouse in Piccadilly.
“Instead of negotiating after 40 days of strikes over six months they’ve decided to do this,” Bectu union rep Andrea Cencioni told Socialist Worker.
“It created more anger.”
Gerry Morrissey is general secretary of the Bectu arm of the Prospect union.
He said, “This is clearly an attempt to break the union by undermining the strike.”
Workers are demanding their chosen union is recognised.
At present Bectu is recognised at only one site—the Ritzy in Brixton.
Other demands include the Living Wage of £9.75 an hour in London and £8.45 outside the capital, maternity pay and paternity pay.
To win and fight back against the suspensions the strikes need to continue.
There’s a danger the union will back off in the face of the latest attack and under pressure from legal challenges.
Strikes last year at Soas university and at the National Gallery showed that when workers are suspended or sacked, their jobs can be defended through striking.
The Picturehouse dispute’s successes so far have come from the militancy of the strikes and their high profile.
The workers have largely built the union themselves.
There are over 3,500 Cineworld workers in Britain, most of them on minimum wage.
The union should seek to organise all of them, not just the 700 at Picturehouse.
Sophie from the Ritzy cinema in Brixton told Socialist Worker, “We’re still completely behind the campaign and coming together stronger.”