Workers at The Ritzy cinema in Brixton are on strike today for the London Living Wage. Pickets began at 9am and will continue into the evening. Workers in BECTU, the media and entertainment trade union, gathered with DIY placards and leaflets using film quotes and art house cinema imagery. Ritzy workers are the only cinema with union recognition in the Picturehouse group and are spearheading a campaign that could develop union organisation in other cinemas.
The workers in Brixton are striking because Picturehouse are not paying them the London Living Wage. The Ritzy, the most successful and busy art house cinema in the UK, pays most of its staff £7.24/hr. This is well below the £8.80/hr rate advised by the independent living wage foundation as the minimum income required to live in London. Many of the company’s employees are also on zero hours contracts. Picturehouse was recently bought by Cineworld and is part of the largest cinema chain in Europe.
Management were forced to close the cinema today but did so with bad grace. The posters around the site portrayed the staff as split, despite the vast majority actively supporting the strike.
The campaign has picked up support from other workers, including BECTU members at Curzon Cinemas who are also campaigning for the living wage after having won union recognition.
The pickets spread across Brixton’s Windrush square. Their materials dominated the centre of Brixton and gained enthusiastic support from the local community.
Ritzy workers are planning future days of action. Send messages of support to the Facebook group: www.facebook.com/RitzyLivingWage and Twitter: @RitzyLivingWage
Send a message to Picturehouses Cinemas, telling them that you support the Living Wage for their workers: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
You can visit your local picture house cinema to show support for the strike. We have produced a short leaflet for other Picturehouses workers. The 5 cinemas in London are Hackney, Stratford, Greenwich, Notting Hill and Clapham.