On Thursday, 14 December, 2017 I attended a picket of Hackney Picturehouse against the mistreatment of the workers at the cinema and every other Picturehouse and Cineworld cinema in the United Kingdom. The Picturehouse workers have been on strike now for over a year: they’re paid £9.30 per hour, no access to sick, maternity or paternity pay, and the managers are refusing to negotiate with them.
This simply cannot continue! No workers at such cinemas can give you tickets to watch Star Wars, pizza and coke to enjoy whilst relaxing, if they don’t receive enough money for a decent home, TV or any decent living standards, or don’t get paid at all if they break their legs, have a new offspring or require a vital day off work.
On Saturday 16 December there was a community protest outside Hackney Picturehouse. Activists linked arms, chanted and blockaded the entrance causing disruption to all the evenings screenings. If Picturehouse continue to refuse the demands of the strike, and refuse to engage with the workers chosen union, BECTU, community activists will continue a campaign of direct action.
You can read more about the campaign for this strike and sign the petition here.
I made a speech on that demonstration, conveying my solidarity with the strike and announcing my Take The Stress Out Of Studying (TSOS) campaign (read more here).
The points of solidarity between the Picturehouse strike and my campaign are:
• Students are the future workers, so why not support the workers who’re on strike for a Living Wage, if you’re supporting the movement for better and stressless education – Workers and Students Unite!
• It was the workers who fought for a weekend, and a summer holiday, and an NHS – so why not support the fight for a Living Wage – No to Low Pay!
• Too many students are demoralised during education, so they abandon their studies and get into the work too early – No to Stress, No to Exams!
• If you’re a student, or education worker and you’ve crossed a picket line to see Star Wars, think again: Picturehouse workers are people of our class who are fighting for enough money for their lives and better treatment. Going into this cinema during this boycott will undermine the strike, and let the managers off the hook, they will continue to pay their workers low pay. Picturehouse and Cineworld makes so much profit, but doesn’t share any of it – so why not support the workers fight for better wealth for life and better treatment in the workforce?
• If you’re a Picturehouse striker and you support academisation and the exam system, think again. Students are the future of our class – the workers – and they all want to learn, but their education suffers when they’re given three homeworks a day, and two-hour detentions for defying unnecessary rules. Moreover eachers and other school workers get demoralised when they have to deal with 20 students at once, respond to over 15 emails simultaneously, and work for 11 hours a day – Workers and Students United!
• I call on students, education workers, parents, the labour movement, cinema workers and everyone who receives low pay, ever-lasting workload and workforce mistreatment of any sort, to expand the TSOS campaign and Picturehouse strike. So, if you or anyone else is in either of these situations, please invite people to help TSOS, convey them your solidarity and empathy, sit down and confer with them about their anxieties, explain patiently why workers and students should be fit to fight for better pay and stressless education in solidarity, pass motions onto your local trade union or Labour Party branch about TSOS and the Picturehouse workers and sign the petition.
We need to continue the struggle for better pay and stressless education, so why not attend the Picturehouse Strike Solidarity gig on 10 January, 2018 at 7pm, where you can have discussions and meet like-minded people about the strike. Book tickets quickly! Details here.
There’s a call to action for every proletarian socialist movement — “Agitate, Educate and Organise”. And that’s what’s linking these two struggles together.