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Cinema workers face sack for joining fair pay strike

Cinema chain talks tough after Bectu members demand London Living wage

06 October, 2017 — By Chloe Livadeas

The picket line protest at the Picturehoue Central 

CINEMA workers from Picturehouse Central staged a walkout this week over refusals to pay them London living wage.

The strike coincided with the beginning of the annual BFI London Film Festival, for which Picturehouse Central is one of the host cinemas.

Staff had called on the public to boycott screenings going ahead at the cinema after their employer said they will sack anyone taking part in the strike.

Fifty protesters took part in a demonstration on Wednesday in Leicester Square, as staff from four other London cinemas in Hackney, East Dulwich, Crouch End and the Ritzy were also striking.

A spokeswoman from BECTU said the union “deplore the threat from Picturehouse management to dismiss union members taking part in lawful industrial action”.

BETCU said instead of threatening staff Picturehouse should negotiate with them on their “just claim”.

The statement added: “The Living Wage is a necessity and is something which is affordable for Picturehouse which is profit making. The company is increasingly out of step with other industry employers, including the BFI and Curzon, which are Living Wage employers.”

Picturehouse believes the strikes are unlawful as they negotiated a pay rise with their staff last month.

Its statement said: “Front of house staff in London (except the Ritzy) now receive £9.30ph, equivalent to £9.92ph as we’re one of the few cinema companies who choose to pay for breaks. This was agreed via a majority vote with recognised staff union The Forum.”

The workers plan to walkout again over the weekend from Friday to Sunday and again on October 11 and 15, the day the festival ends.

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