Party time for striking cinema staff

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

Staff and supporters will dance the night away to raise money for continuing their strike after a 13-day stoppage had to be called off

Employees of the Ritzy cinema in Brixton have been in dispute with owners Picturehouse for more than 16 months, in a bid to secure the Living Wage.

The Ritzy was closed last weekend for the strike, as staff union BECTU demanded fair pay for all staff, company sick pay, maternity and paternity pay, and pay rises for supervisors, managers, chefs, sound technicians and projectionists – plus recognition of the union.

Last year, three Ritzy staff members were dismissed by Picturehouse, a move BECTU claimed was down to the dispute.

In November, a collective of high-profile UK film industry figures including film producer Rebecca O’Brien and dirctor Sarah Gavron called for a resolution to the dispute.

BECTU had planned a further 11 days of stoppages this month, but had to suspend their action after a legal threat by Picturehouse.

The company is using a 2015 court decision which ruled that walking out for a few hours, rather than a full shift, could entitle the firm to dock the entire shift’s pay.

Head of BECTU Gerry Morrissey said: “We has made it clear to Picturehouse that the union’s members will be turning up for work on those days previously notified as strike days, but which have now been withdrawn, and that any failure to pay members for their work will result in legal action.”

Ritzy staff’s Living Wage campaign has been backed by stars such as Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Richard Curtis, Lindsay Duncan and local Oscar winner Sir Mark Rylance.

The company currently pays £9.30 an hour in London and £8.36 elsewhere in the UK and that, with paid breaks factored in, these rates are equivalent to £9.92 and £8.92 over an eight-hour shift.

It says it is “one of the highest-paying employers in the cinema industry.”

Following a rise last year, the London Living Wage is currently £10.20 per hour while the National Living Wage is £8.75 per hour.

Picturehouse’s parent compay Cineworld reported a pre-tax profit of £98.2million for 2016 – slightly lower than the previous 12 months.

Tonight’s party at Market House, Brixton will raise money in support of the Brixton Ritzy workers.

DJs Mike Urban and Ben Port from supporters Offline Club will play what they say will be a
fun-loaded mix of floor-stomping tunes covering anything from Dolly Parton to drum’n’bass, with video and projections”.

Tickets are £5. Market House are giving £1 for every ticket sold.


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