Staff picket outside the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, LondonBrixton Boycotts the Ritzy/Facebook

CUSU have banned Picturehouse, the cinema company, from holding a stall at Freshers’ Fair this year, in solidarity with striking staff who are demanding the company pays the living wage.

Workers from several London and Brighton cinemas are involved in the dispute, according to the striking workers’ website. Staff from the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, on St Andrew’s Street, are not involved.

Picturehouse have previously run a stand at the two-day fair at Parker’s Piece and Kelsey Kerridge, which is the largest event CUSU runs. They have used the fair to promote the cinema, which is located above The Regal Wetherspoon, and to sell student memberships, which include discounted tickets and restaurant offers.

Staff from the cinema chain, which is owned by Cineworld, are planning ‘community action’ on the 26th August and 2nd September, and are encouraging members of the public to join them on the picket line. Striking staff claim Cineworld have refused to meet with representatives from BECTU, a media and entertainment trade union, and that four BECTU representatives have been sacked, as part of 11 months of disputes.

In an open letter to Picturehouse, CUSU said: “We, the Cambridge University Students’ Union, are writing because we wish to revoke your stall at the CUSU Freshers’ Fair on the 3rd and 4th October. As a union, we have made a principled commitment to supporting campaigns for the Living Wage in Cambridge and across the country. We are working on becoming a Living Wage accredited union and maintain strong links with our staff unions.”

“We find it morally unacceptable that employers have refused to take the needs of their workers into account and provide proper benefits,” it continues. “We are showing our support for this strike action by refusing to have the Picturehouse advertise their services to students until the matter has been properly resolved.”

In a statement on her official Facebook account, CUSU women’s officer Lola Olufemi said: “As a union, It would be hypocritical for us to ignore the the fact that Picturehouse workers have been in an 11 month dispute with their employers over pay and basic working conditions. It’s disgraceful that key trade union members have been fired and that workers requests have consistently been ignored.”

A spokesperson for Picturehouse told Varsity: “Picturehouse Cinemas are one of the highest paying companies in the cinema industry and one of the highest-paying cinema in Cambridge. The Arts Picturehouse has not taken any industrial action nor has current plans to do so.”


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“We look forward to welcoming students into the Arts Picturehouse for the new term and beyond”, they added.

According to the Picturehouse website, London staff are paid “£9.65 [per hour] (based on £9.05 an hour for an 8 hour shift which includes a 30 minute paid break) plus £1 commission for every Membership sold or renewed and £2 for every Member Plus Membership”. Staff outside of London receive £8.72 an hour by a similar calculation. The living wage, as stated by the Living Wage Foundation, stands at £9.75 per hour in London, and £8.45 in the rest of the UK.

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