Living wage campaigners at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema and others in the Picturehouse chain are to link up with the International Women’s Strike campaign on Thursday (8 March) – International Women’s Day.
They are planning a large demonstration at a picketline outside Picturehouse Central near Piccadilly Circus starting at 6pm.
The event will highlight the campaigners’ demands for maternity pay as well as the living wage, other social benefits and union recognition.
Members of the cinema union BECTU in five cinemas across London have been campaigning for almost two years in the latest phase of what is now the biggest and longest-running dispute in the sector in the UK.
They will link their struggle to the campaign for women’s rights and gender equality, and work with campaigners from the International Women’s Strike movement, who are planning to bring hundreds to their picket line for a rally.
Cineworld, the multinational company that owns Picturehouse, has an 80% male board of directors. Its CEO, Mooky Greidinger, takes home about £2.5m a year, the campaigners say. Cineworld’s women employees are paid on average 7.8% less than men.
Kelly Rogers, a BECTU rep at the Ritzy, said: “Gendered oppression is about economic exploitation as well as sexual and domestic violence. Low pay, poor conditions, precarious contracts, an absence of decent maternity entitlements. These are all feminist issues.”
Holly Thicknes, a striker at the Crouch End Picturehouse said: “On Thursday, we will be linking up with feminists and equality campaigners – and standing in a long tradition of workers taking action on International Women’s Day.
“If our demands were rolled out across the economy. it would be women who predominantly benefit, because it is women who suffer the worst pay and conditions no matter which industry you look at.
“In the cinema world, everyone rightly talks about Harvey Weinstein and his crimes, but gendered exploitation in the film industry goes far beyond that.
“As cinema workers, we know that we need a movement that can fight the rich and powerful, who maintain their status through exploiting the most vulnerable groups in our communities.”
The demands of the campaigners include:
- Company sick pay for all
- Company maternity/paternity/adoption pay
- Pay rises for supervisors, managers, chefs, projectionists and sound technicians
- The reinstatement of four union reps at the Ritzy sacked by Picturehouse.
- Workers at Hackney Picturehouse, Crouch End Picturehouse, and East Dulwich Picturehouse are also seeking recognition for their chosen union, BECTU. This would mean that the company would meet regularly with BECTU members and representatives to negotiate over pay and conditions. BECTU is already recognised at the Ritzy.
Ritzy workers went on strike 13 times in the summer of 2014 to demand the London Living Wage. They secured a 26% pay rise, but continue to be paid £9.10 an hour. The London Living Wage is currently £10.20.
Workers at other London Picturehouse sites are paid £9.05 an hour and workers outside London are paid £8.18.