Union activists who have been campaigning to get Picturehouse Cinemas to negotiate on implementing a living wage in London got a nasty little surprise when they came into work on Friday, after the Hackney branch covered its front door with a giant “we’re hiring” advert.
And adding insult to injury the firm was bragging about its £9.05 pay offer — which was only won after a major campaign by staff at Picturehouse sites across the city in 2014.
Workers with trade union Bectu, who have held multiple protests and strikes at the Hackney branch recently as part of their latest campaign to win the London Living Wage, including on February 25th last month, pointed out that only a few years ago the firm was paying minimum wage and slated the bully-boy tactic of pushing a new hire scheme in the middle of a dispute. They said in a statement:
So Picturehouse have decided to put up this ludicrously enormous job ad all over our front entrance. Seeing as, as far as we are aware, Hackney Picturehouse is not in fact hiring at the moment, this appears to be a quite vindictive move on their part to bamboozle customers into thinking staff are being treated fairly.
Apparently posters like this are going up at Picturehouses across the country, many of which are also NOT hiring. They seem to have little regard for how this will make staff feel, or how job-seekers will react when inevitably told that no jobs are available.
We also sincerely hope this is not an attempt to to edge out BECTU members who have been active in our campaign through new hires…
Even on its own web page Picturehouse’s pay offer is yet to be updated from the last pay dispute (as of March 11), where it was offering £8.77 while complaining about union workers’ “disappointing” militancy and pushing its own company “union.” Shortly after writing it the firm gave in to the staff “minority” and upped pay.
Picturehouse and its owners Cineworld may be feeling the pressure as the living wage campaign has started to spread beyond its London heartlands. Yesterday staff at Brighton’s Duke of York’s screen, part of the Picturehouse chain, announced a Yes vote in favour of strike action on March 18th on a 75% turnout, bringing the number of venues formally in dispute over the issue to five.
Strikers have a major fundraiser coming up on Monday March 27th at The Victoria in Dalston, London. Called Strike While the Mic is Hot! there will be performances, karaoke and DJs. £6 entry (£4 low-waged).