Picturehouse house staff demonstrate in front of the barricades – By Marc Cowan Tonight was a really poignant strike date as Picturehouse opened their doors to the public for the first time, but also because they choose to heave huge steel barricades a …

Picturehouse house staff demonstrate in front of the barricades

Picturehouse house staff demonstrate in front of the barricades

– By Marc Cowan

Tonight was a really poignant strike date as Picturehouse opened their doors to the public for the first time, but also because they choose to heave huge steel barricades across the entrance, covered in Picturehouse logos from around the country.

Consistently the Picturehouse team make seemingly grave errors in their PR tactics. Putting up barriers around the cinema does not translate as a defence from rowdy protest, because we’re not rowdy. It’s unlikely to make those that cross the picket feel ‘safe’, because it cages them in. The demonstrations have been reported by the media as being more like the atmosphere of a carnival than anything that requires security. Music, dancing, laughter, talking with the community of all ages and cultures. By the end of the evening, despite the rain, we were sharing jaffa cakes with the police and cleaning up litter.

But the barriers bring a new realisation to me. Not only are are those at the top of the company so far removed from their workforce that they misunderstand that we’re not out to cause trouble, we simply need more money to live on. But it seems they’re also out of touch with society in general. The community can see us dancing with children, and enjoying each other’s company, not as a facade, but because we genuinely appreciate the value of one another.

When Picturehouse respond to the constant support for our campaign shown by Ken Loach, by refusing to host a charity screening of his latest film, they demonstrate a misunderstanding of how this will be interpreted by the public at large – as bitter and childish. Perhaps this actually suggests that companies that grow to this size are either too far removed from their customer base, or worse still, no longer care about what their customers think because they are so confident that their popularity with allow them to ride the storm however big…

The strength and energy of the Ritzy staff and their campaign grows and grows and I believe the human level on which we demonstrate is impossible to beat. The question is, when will Picturehouse and Cineworld choose to stop fighting it with their financial power and start using it to their advantage?”

– Marc Cowan is a BECTU rep 


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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