Trades Unions


11th February 2017. Workers from four Cineworld cinemas took the biggest industrial action ever in UK cinema history. Staff walked out from four of Cineworlds cinemas, including one of its flagship locations in central London (Picturehouse Central). An overwhelming number of workers (96.8%) voted to take strike action.

Cinemas affected by this industrial action are; The Ritzy (Brixton, Hackney Picturehouse, Crouch End Picturehouse and Picturehouse Central in Piccadilly, London. Workers walked out from these cinemas at 2pm and remained on the picket lines until the last screenings.

They are fighting for the London Living Wage, an amount of just 9.75. They have also been striking for Maternity and Paternity pay. Cineworld have made huge profits of 83.8 million. Its workers cannot even afford to live in London on their salaries (poverty pay).

The workers have joined the BECTU (Broadcast, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union) to help move their dispute forward and are gaining further support.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has written to Cineworld's CEO Moshe (Mooky) Greidinger, in support of the workers at Cineworlds cinemas.

Workers strike outside the Hackney Picture House, for the London living wage, maternity, paternity and sick pay, which the company 'Cineworld' have flatly refused to negotiate. This picket clashed with the release of the new 'Stars Wars' film, and strikers urged members of the public to go and see the film at other nearby cinemas that were showing the same film. A good number of customers did leave the cinema in support of the striking workers. Management and senior staff handed out leaflets to customers claiming that the strike involved a minority of workers, although all the 'front of house' staff were in fact outside the cinema at the time.

Workers from the BECTU (Broadcast Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union) union walk out from the Hackney Picture House in an industrial action over pay and conditions. Namely The London Living Wage, Maternity, Paternity and Holiday pay. The owners of the Cinema (Cineworld) have refused to discuss the London Living Wage leaving workers no choice but to strike.

Workers from the Ritzy in Brixton are also taking strike action against Cineworld, for the same reasons and both joined together outside the Picture House in Hackney as Management tried to break the strike by keeping the Cinema open during the action.

Some union members went into the Picture House to inform customers about the dispute hand out leaflets, but were reportedly roughly ejected by management.

In a controversial move Cineworld acquired the Picture House building (formerly the Ocean music venue) from Hackney Council in 2011, without any payment and have since gone on to make millions in profit. The council failed to tender the premises to anyone else, or consult with any groups. The building had previously had 23 million spent on it by the council and a further 15 million from the Art Council England invested, this was as its previous incarnation as a music venue and not to convert it into a cinema. The company Cineworld own 43 sites across the U.K.

Members of United Voices of the World protest outside Topshop in Oxford Street. Carolina and Suzanne two cleaners working for Britannia Services Group - the company that has the contract for cleaning services at Topshop stores - have been suspended while campaigning for a 'real living wage'. Carolina has now been sacked for unspecified claims about her conduct. This action is in support of both cleaners and all others working in what campaigners say is an atmosphere of victimisation.

The last performance of 'Hamlet' at the Barbican Centre. United Voices of the World Union join forces with Boycott Workfare to protest against the Barbicans treatment of cleaners, and also their use of the Department for Work and Pensions Unemployed Workfare captives, where Claimants are forced to work for no pay under threat of benefit sanctions. Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party joined the protesters.

Owned by the City of London, the Barbican employs cleaners through the outsourcing company MITIE who use the unemployed as free labour through its “Ready2Work” and the Governments “Work Experience” schemes (Workfare).

The cleaners began their dispute with the Barbican in 2013, when they won the right to be paid the London Living Wage, but have fought to implement this fully and also get full sick pay. Other issues include victimisation and intimidation of Union members who protest, in direct contravention of Sections 10 & 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union gather outside the Tate Modern and on the Millennium bridge to picket, and leaflet the public on the use of zero-hours contracts, which are becoming increasingly used by employers, including the Tate Modern.

The following is from the House of Commons Library SN/BT/6553 – Zero-hours contracts November 2013.

“The use of zero-hours contracts raises a number of legal issues which affect both their utility to the employer as a contract for flexible labour and the worker in respect of their employment rights. Chief amongst these issues is the question of employment status, ie whether or not those working under such contracts are “employees” or “workers”. Persons with employee status are afforded a number of important legal rights which workers are not, such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed, maternity rights, redundancy rights and rights under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. Their use also raises a question about whether it is necessary to pay those employed under zero-hours contracts the National Minimum Wage (NMW) whilst they are on call.”

Some might argue that the use of terms "Worker" and "Employee" to differentiate between people in a workplace environment evoke business and legal doublespeak, aimed at blurring and eroding issues of pay and conditions.

An Electrical Supervisor (a UNITE member) was removed from the project after photographing a HI VOLTAGE CABLE lying under boulders, boards and scaffold clips, presenting a danger to workers on the site.

Members of the union “UNITE” stage a protest outside the Oxford Street Supermarket, which employs the services of Thanet Earth produce (part of the Fresca Group Ltd). The Union says that Thanet Earth produce are exploiting migrant workers by using them as casual workers. UNITE says Thanet Earth produce is also failing to employ local people in the areas that they operate. UNITE advocates that pressure be put on the supermarkets that buy Thanet Earth produce, which includes Marks & Spencers, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's, to change Thanet Earths employment practices.

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