UK entertainment union BECTU is planning a “series of strikes and demonstrations” during this year’s BFI London Film Festival due to an on-going pay dispute with with art-house cinema chain Picturehouse.
BECTU head Gerry Morrissey wrote to BFI CEO Amanda Nevill last week to inform her of the plans. He also called on the festival not to screen films at the Cineworld-owned Picturehouse venues. The union tweeted a copy of the letter today.
Last year, two Picturehouse venues were used by the festival: Picturehouse Central and Hackney Picturehouse.
This is a decade-long battle between BECTU and Picturehouse. There have already been a number of strikes by unionised Picturehouse workers over the pay dispute and there was a red carpet demo at the beginning of last year’s LFF.
The union, which has tens of thousands of members, has called for the chain to pay its staff the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour. Picturehouse maintains that it is “one of the highest-paying employers in the cinema industry.” It currently pays staff in London £9.30.
Earlier this year, an Employment Tribunal ruled that two BECTU members were unfairly dismissed from their jobs at Picturehouse.
“The BFI is a leading organisation in UK film and we urge them to take a stand on this issue,” said Helen Ryan, BECTU’s Assistant National Secretary. “The BFI believes in the Living Wage and is playing an increasing role in championing ethics and ethical behaviour in the industry.
“We want the BFI’s management to move London Film Festival screenings slated for Picturehouse venues to other locations given the long running dispute over the Living Wage at Picturehouse. The union has made a similar appeal before. We urge the BFI to take this request more seriously given the Tribunals’ criticism of Picturehouse.”
Picturehouse and BFI were not available for comment at time of publication.