Picturehouse strikers and supporters, Central London, 25.2.17, photo Clare Doyle

Picturehouse strikers and supporters, Central London, 25.2.17, photo Clare Doyle   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Brian Debus, Hackney Socialist Party

Dulwich Picturehouse became the sixth site in the cinema chain to take strike action for the living wage on 15 April. When the strikers walked out at 1pm they were greeted with a round of applause, and cheers from fellow Picturehouse workers from the other five sites plus 100 supporters who flooded the pavement on both sides of the road in south London.

Due to intimidation, and fear following threats from Cineworld, their trade union Bectu has only been prepared to sanction picket lines of six at one site, and only for a period of three hours.

The union stated it did not have enough officials to cover the other sites for a longer period of time. This has only occurred since the introduction of the Tories’ draconian anti-trade union laws.

Although this has limited the impact of the strike at the other sites, it allowed for the first time for a meeting of over 50 of the strikers from all six sites to take place, share their experiences, and map out plans for their future strategy.

It was agreed to encourage community support groups to adopt a site and demonstrate outside on strike days. This occurred from 5pm onwards on 15 April outside the Hackney Picturehouse to encourage members of the public to take their custom elsewhere.

Strikers reported that there was some fear due to management intimidation at some sites. The network of union recruitment was also expanding to other sites, even as far as Edinburgh.

The chief executive had doubled his pay against the backdrop of not paying the workforce the London Living Wage. The aim is to have a further group of strike days, in a block of three to five days, to stretch the resources of Cineworld and to damage its public image and share price.

This is a strike not just for the Picturehouse workers, but for all those in precarious employment.