Picturehouse Cinema strike
Employees striking for better pay and better employment terms call for a public boycott of the cinemas
Employees of the London venues, the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse, Picturehouse Central, Crouch End Picturehouse and the Duke of York in Brighton are taking industrial action against their employer whose parent company is Cineworld the second largest cinema company in Europe.
The striking employees have called for the public to support them by boycotting the cinema chain which includes 23 venues nationally.
Photo credit: Bectu.
The employees’ demands are that that they are paid the London Living Wage as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, at £9.75 per hour for those in London, that they are entitled to maternity/paternity leave, that fair wage rises are granted to all employee tiers at the cinema, including managers, supervisors, chefs, projectionists and technicians, and that their union of choice, the BECTU (Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union) sector of Prospect is recognised by the employer. The employer refuses to negotiate.
Most employees are on zero-hour contracts, although reportedly offered regular shifts, and, those in London are paid £9.10 per hour. Employees reject, as compromised and untrustworthy, the union Staff Forum set-up and funded by the employer.
Their campaign called ‘Living Staff Living Wages’ is according to BECTU, the biggest cinema workers campaign in UK history. It started back in 2014 when 13 strikes by employees of the Ritzy resulted in a pay rise of 26%. These were followed by a reduction in staff numbers described as retaliatory by employees. In September 2016, the demand for fair pay at the Living Wage rate and better employment terms was re-started.
The campaign has been supported by a host of public commentators including Will Self, Owen Jones, and Ken Loach. The Mayor of London, Saddiq Khan, wrote a letter to Cineworld’s millionaire CEO, Moshe (Mooky) Greidinger, urging him to ensure that all staff receive the London Living Wage.
The same step was recently taken by twenty leading actors, journalists, directors and authors, amongst them Patrick Stewart, Mark Rylance, Susan Sarandon, Jo Brand, Caitlin Moran, Michael Palin, Richard Curtis, Mark Thomas, Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis. The celebrity creatives signed a letter to Cineworld’s CEO saying:
“Cineworld is a very successful company that made a substantial profit of £83.8million in 2015, and it is vitally important to share your success with your workforce. Workers should not have to live below the real living wage when your company has the means to set a great example by adhering to the ethical pay structures proposed in the Living Staff Living Wage pay claim.”
Competing Everyman cinema chain had announced in September 2016 that it would move its staff off zero-hour contracts by the end of 2017 while the arthouse cinema chain Curzon agreed to pay front-of-house staff the London living wage back in 2014.
You can find more about the campaign and about way to support it on the BECTU website.
See our list of active consumer boycotts.