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Picturehouse cinema workers rally in Hackney during their strike action last October
IN A REPEAT of one of the largest strikes in UK cinema history, that took place 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. Greidinger’s brother Israel Greidinger doubled his pay in the same period to £1.783m from £849,000.

This 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. It will be the first strike day for the 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 today, 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 if they are 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 They hired and trained a group of workers who were then asked to work their first shifts covering the withdrawn labour of their colleagues.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!’

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 Patrick Stewart.


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