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Creatives back call for Picturehouse living wage boycott

Members at the Duke of York's in Brighton received massive support when they staged their first strike.

23 March 2017

Low paid workers fighting for the Living Wage at Picturehouse cinemas have received a great boost to their campaign. Their call for a boycott of the Picturehouse circuit, owned by Cineworld, has won the backing of leading creatives at home and abroad.

US actor and activist, Susan Sarandon and actor and theatre director Sir Mark Rylance, are just two stellar names on a list of influential, respected and much loved creators calling on Cineworld to pay their staff the Living Wage.  

Last Saturday (18 March 2017) BECTU members at the Duke of York's in Brighton staged their first ever strike in support of the campaign.

Staff at five venues - the Brixton Ritzy, and Picturehouses in Hackney, Central London, Crouch End and Brighton - are now party to a campaign of industrial action, determined to rouse Cineworld management from their stupor, as the strikes continue and the company's own customers post on social media pledging not to renew their memberships until there is agreement to pay the Living Wage.

List of leading supporters

The growing number of creatives backing the call for a boycott include:

  • Elizabeth Berrington
  • Jo Brand
  • Marc Cousins
  • Richard Curtis
  • Lindsay Duncan
  • Jeremy Deller
  • Natalie Dormer
  • Nick Frost
  • Ken Loach 
  • Caitlin Moran
  • Michael Palin
  • Tony Robinson
  • Sir Mark Rylance 
  • Susan Sarandon 
  • Andy Serkis
  • Sir Patrick Stewart
  • Mark Thomas
  • Ricky Tomlinson
  • Indira Varma
  • Irvine Welsh.

Launched last month at a rally in Leicester Square addressed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP, head of BECTU, Gerry Morrissey and Prospect president, Denise McGuire, the boycott is beginning to bite. 

Members of the powerful creative lobby are joint signatories to a letter to Cineworld's CEO, Mooky Greidinger, sent this week. The letter reads:

Dear Mooky Greidinger 

We are writing in support of the Living Staff Living Wage campaign. We find it disappointing that you fail to pay your lowest paid staff the Living Wage.

We therefore support your workers in their call for a public boycott of Picturehouse and Cineworld.

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.

This week the Guardian published news of the creatives' appeal to Cineworld

Early Day Motion 1000

Earlier this month Helen Hayes MP (Dulwich and West Norwood) initiated Early Day Motion 1000 in the House of Commons to register MPs concern about the failure of Picturehouse/Cineworld to pay the Living Wage and to improve on other key terms and conditions.

The EDM "calls for Cineworld Cinemas to increase investment in worker welfare and pay all picturehouse staff the Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation." Ask your MP to sign EDM 1000.

More strike action

On Friday 31 March members at the Ritzy, Hackney Picturehouse and Picturehouse Central will all stage a further strike. 

Help the campaign

Find out more and donate to the workers' strike fund

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Amendment to list of supporters posted 24 March 2017.