Fresh strikes launched by Picturehouse Cinema workers over pay

A series of fresh strikes has been launched by cinema workers involved in a long-running dispute over pay.

Members of the Bectu union at Picturehouse cinemas in London walked out on Wednesday for three days, while more stoppages will be held on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

The dispute is now in its second year, involving six Picturehouse venues in London and Brighton, involving a claim for the voluntary living wage, which is higher than the statutory rate.

Gerry Morrissey, head of Bectu, now part of the Prospect union, said in a message to members: "It remains unacceptable that your employer continues to refuse to negotiate with your trade union, and continues to reject any initiatives to resolve the dispute. It is this intransigence which has forced the membership into this campaign of strike action."

Bectu claims that Picturehouse and its owner, Cineworld, refuse to negotiate on demands for the London living wage, company sick pay for all, maternity, paternity and adoption pay.

Picturehouse Cinemas said it had negotiated a pay increase with its staff, adding: "Within this agreement front-of-house staff in London now receive £9.30 per hour, equivalent to £9.92 per hour as we're one of the few cinema companies who choose to pay for breaks.

"This was agreed via a majority vote with recognised staff union The Forum. After legal advice, we believe the strikes would be unlawful and have informed Bectu of our view.

"We are extremely happy to have negotiated a pay rise, as agreed by a majority vote, and believe staff will not partake in any unlawful action against the company."

The London living wage was recently increased to £10.20 an hour, compared with the statutory rate of £7.50 for over 25-year-olds.

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