Massive support for Duke of York's staff who took their first strike on 18 March 2017.
13 April 2017
Staff at five Picturehouse cinemas are to strike on Easter Saturday in the continuing struggle to secure the London Living Wage. A press release giving more details is set out below.
Five Picturehouse cinemas to strike on Easter Saturday
In a repeat of one of the largest strikes in UK cinema history in February, five Picturehouse cinemas will be on strike simultaneously on Easter Saturday 15 April.
Workers at Picturehouse cinemas have been striking since last September for the Living Wage (currently £9.75 in London, £8.45 elsewhere, as set by the Living Wage Foundation). Picturehouse continue to refuse negotiations despite owner Cineworld announcing £93.8 million profit for 2016 last month.
In the last financial year, CEO Moshe Greidinger doubled his pay to 2.588m from £1.213m in 2015. Mr Greidinger's brother Israel Greidinger doubled his pay in the same period to £1.783m from £849,000.
This coming Saturday’s action by low paid staff will take the total number of strike days at Picturehouse cinemas in the last seven months to over 40.
First strike for East Dulwich Picturehouse
It will be the first strike day for BECTU Sector of Prospect members at the East Dulwich Picturehouse. Union members there will be walking out at 1pm and the strike will run until 5am on Sunday 16 April. They will be joined by staff from The Ritzy (Brixton), Hackney Picturehouse, Crouch End Picturehouse, and Picturehouse Central, who will be demonstrating outside the East Dulwich venue. Strikes at the other sites will run for 24 hours from 5am on Saturday 15 April.
Ben Lennon from East Dulwich Picturehouse notes: “We at East Dulwich have seen the campaign growing and it’s become clear that we need to be a part of it. It isn't just about Picturehouse. It's about all workers, especially those below the national average pay. People should not be forced into work ill or face being unable to pay their rent. We should not live in fear of having our hours drastically reduced in quieter months. It's about justice, a more equal distribution of income, and taking a significant step towards a fairer society.”
In most cases, Picturehouse have opted to keep cinemas open during strikes, drafting in workers (including managerial staff) from other cinemas. In advance of the most recent strikes on March 31, Picturehouse undertook a nationwide advertising campaign looking for new staff. 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.”
Call for boycott
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 (full list below).
Alisdair Cairns (Hackney) - 07766230226
Kelly Rogers (Ritzy) - 07824797278
Ben Lennon (East Dulwich) - 07576177043
FURTHER NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. High profile support for the boycott of Picturehouse and Cineworld: Susan Sarandon, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Mark Rylance, Ken Loach, Elizabeth Berrington, Jo Brand, Mark Cousins, Richard Curtis, Natalie Dormer, Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Deller, Nick Frost, Caitlin Moran, Michael Palin, Tony Robinson, Andy Serkis, Mark Thomas, Ricky Tomlinson, Indira Varma, Irvine Welsh, John McDonnell MP.
2. Sadiq Kahn wrote to Cineworld CEO Moshe Greidinger in January 2017 urging him “to do everything possible to ensure all staff receive the London Living Wage”.
3. Members of BECTU, the cinema workers’ union, at the Ritzy, Hackney, Crouch End and Picturehouse Central voted 96.8% in favour of industrial action against Picturehouse and Cineworld’s refusal to negotiate on demands for:
- London Living Wage
- Company sick pay for all
- Company maternity/paternity/adoption pay
- Pay rises for supervisors, managers, chefs, projectionists and sound technicians.
4. The Duke of York's cinema in Brighton voted 100% in favour of strike action.
5. East Dulwich Picturehouse voted 88% in favour of strike action with a 94% turnout.
6. Workers at the Duke of York's, Hackney Picturehouse, Picturehouse Central and Crouch End Picturehouse also seek recognition for their chosen union, the BECTU Sector of Prospect. This would mean that the company would agree to meet regularly with BECTU Sector of Prospect members and representatives to negotiate over pay and conditions.
7. Picturehouse has threatened their workers and their union, the BECTU Sector of Prospect, with legal action over unfounded claims including unlawful picketing, intimidating behaviour, and playing 'racial' music on picket lines.
8. Over the summer of 2014, Ritzy cinema workers went on strike 13 times for the London Living Wage, and secured a 26% pay rise, but continue to be paid at a rate below the London Living Wage, £9.10 p/hr. Workers at Hackney Picturehouse are paid only £9.05 p/hr.
9. Earlier in the dispute, strikes at both the Ritzy and Hackney Picturehouses led to the cancellation of a number of BFI London Film Festival screenings, and the strikers rallied outside a number of high-profile festival events.
10. Cineworld Cinemas 2015 post-tax profit was £83.8 million. CEO Mooky Greidinger’s pay package totalled over £1.2 million accounting for salary, bonuses, travel expenses etc.
11. Since the campaign started, Picturehouse union members have received support from a number of high profile celebrities, including Ken Loach, Danny Boyle, Eric Cantona, Andy Serkis, Irvine Welsh and Owen Jones and they have garnered a great deal of media attention, including coverage on the front cover of the Observer newspaper on 31 August 2014. At the UK premiere of his new film, I, Daniel Blake, in Liverpool on 24th September 2016, director Ken Loach said “The Ritzy strikers are heroic. Picturehouse is owned by Cineworld which is a big multinational corporation. They make fortunes. The idea that they pay starvation wages because they can get people who are desperate for work is absolutely shocking. Victory to the Ritzy strikers, no doubt".
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