Picturehouse strikers threatened with sack

Submitted by Gemma_S on 4 October, 2017 - 4:34 Author: Gemma Short
Picturehouse strike

Workers at Picturehouse cinemas will strike again on 4 October at the start of the London Film Festival which is being held at two of the London Picturehouse cinemas.

Workers at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse, East Dulwich Picturehouse, and Picturehouse Central will all strike from 3.30pm on 4 October. Workers at Hackney and Central will then strike from 5-7pm on 6-8, and 11-15 October with walk-outs timed to disrupt premieres and big London Film Festival events at those cinemas. On 15 October all sites will strike again to disrupt the closing gala at Hackney Picturehouse.

On 4 October a demonstration will be held in Leicester Square from 5.30pm to disrupt the opening gala of the film festival.

Picturehouse has responded by threatening to sack workers if they go ahead and strike! In a legal threat to the workers’ union Bectu, Picturehouse claimed , with large amounts of mathematical gymnastics to “prove” it, that they pay above the Living Wage and that the strike ballot is therefore illegal. In fact Picturehouse′s supposed Living Wage pay rise only takes workers to a maximum of £9.30 an hour. Bectu in reply restated that the dispute is for the Living Wage as determined the Living Wage Foundation, for company sick pay and maternity/paternity pay, for the reinstatement of sacked reps, the refusal of Picturehouse to negotiate with Bectu and recognise the union in its workplaces. Correctly Bectu stated: ″unless and until all the elements are resolved there remains a trade dispute. Even if your assertion about the Living Wage was correct (which we do not accept), none of the other elements are addressed.″

Bectu also challenged Picturehouse, if it is so confident that it pays the Living Wage, to approach the Living Wage Foundation for independent verification and accreditation.

Instead of seeking an injunction to get the strike called off, Picturehouse sought to bully workers into not striking by threatening to sack staff and seek reparations from the union for damages as a result of the strike. Clearly the financial cost of a strike during London Film Festival is on their minds! Bectu general secretary Gerry Morrissey said: “Picturehouse management know they have no legal grounds to stop the proposed strike action during the London film festival and have now resorted to threatening their own staff. We will not be bullied and we will robustly defend any legal action.″

Picturehouse workers joined the ″Precarious Labour Strikes Back″ demonstration on Wednesday 27 September along with activists from the IWGB, UVW, Bakers′ Food and Allied Workers′ Union, and others.

• Find out more and get involved here