Hackney Picturehouse staff strike because they ‘can’t afford to fly the family nest’

Staff on the picket line outside the Hackney Picturehouse

Staff on the picket line outside the Hackney Picturehouse - Credit: Edd bauer

Hackney Picturehouse staff downed tools for five days in protest at the chain’s refusal to pay the London living wage – which for some means they have no choice but to live with their parents.

Workers represented by union Bectu are demanding the Mare Street cinema ups pay from £8.77 to £9.75 an hour and offers late-night rates and maternity, paternity, adoption and compassionate leave.

Picturehouse is owned by Cineworld, which posted profits of £81.3million during 2015.

One member of staff on strike told the Gazette: “All of us are either living with our parents in our mid- to late-20s, or struggling to pay rent and living miles away from the place we work.

“They make millions in post-tax profits and then they turn around and say we can’t give you a 98p-an-hour raise.

“It feels unfair – mainly on my parents even though they’ve said multiple times there’s no problem with it. My dad is in retirement – he shouldn’t be looking after a 28-year-old.”

Six workers formed a picket line outside the cinema from Thursday until Monday, while others handed out leaflets outside the town hall opposite.

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The staff member, who has asked not to be named, added: “A lot of customers who were going to the new Star Wars film told us they wouldn’t bother seeing it here, and would go to another cinema. A lot signed our petition, and some who have regular membership have said they won’t come back until they pay us the living wage.”

A Cineworld spokesman said: “This is an issue for Picturehouse and its management team and we hope the dispute will be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Picturehouse said it was “disappointed” a “minority” of staff were striking on behalf of a union it does not recognise.

“Our people are represented by the Forum,” said a spokesman, “a recognised union, and we negotiate pay rates each year.” Negotiations are currently underway.

“Our people are hugely important to us – we pay fair wages in a good working environment and have a wide range of benefits that include paying our staff during breaks,” he added.

“Increases in pay for front of house people in Picturehouse Cinemas have far outstripped inflation over the last 3 years, and our rates are significantly above the government legislated national living wage and minimum wage.”