Hollywood Thesp Jeremy Irons told striking workers to be "reasonable" so that he could read some poems.
Jeremy Irons has spent decades treading the boards and gracing the silver screen. If his star turns in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) , Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) and 2017’s Justice League have gained him anything, other than millions of pounds, it’s the presumption to tell badly paid migrant workers how they ought to conduct themselves on strike.
In his latest cameo, in a film by the IWGB Union, Irons is seen giving a group of striking workers a telling off, before walking away, breaking their picket line.
On 16 May 2017, Irons was scheduled to give a reading of TS Elliot poems at the University of London. That day, University security officers and receptionists were striking for the third time. For months they have been asking the university to implement pay rises it had promised six years ago, as part of the “University of London: Back in House” campaign.
The roars of protest ricocheting through the halls meant that Irons’ poems couldn’t be heard, so he came out to ask that the strikers be “reasonable”. Presumably his poetry reading was more important than the conditions of the striking workers.
“There comes a time when shouting is necessary, but there also comes a time when stopping to shout, and to listen and to discuss is also necessary,” says Irons.
“Those of you on zero hours, if you exist, shouldn’t be. The wages should be maybe higher than £20,000 a year if you’re raising a family”, he generously adds.
Henry Chango Lopez, a porter at the University and the president of the IWGB comments, “He might be getting £20,000 in a day. But for us it’s not the same. Many of the workers who work in the university are outsourced [will earn] even less than that in a year.”
“But it’s complicated,” says Irons continuing to dig. “It needs talk, it needs reasonableness. The world can only be run by reasonableness. Those of you from other countries are here, I hope because England is reasonable”.
Omar, a receptionist, said: “He started his speech saying ‘in this country…’ which means he was disrespecting everyone else. The fact is, everyone from that strike is not actually from this country.”
Chango Lopez said: “I found it racist and also disgraceful, the way he is talking to us. We have been reasonable. We always have wrote to the University of London asking them to talk to us. They don’t want to talk to us.”