Mark Steel, Francesca Martinez and Russell Brand back Ritzy campaign for Living Wage

Estelle Cooch reports from the seventh Ritzy strike day since April with support continuing to grow after Russell Brand and comedians Mark Steel and Francesca Martinez lent their backing to the campaign

At the picket lines in Brixton workers were asking supporters to consider boycotting all Picturehouse cinemas. Many of the workers I spoke with made a point of saying they had always hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but the latest paltry pay offer from Picturehouse of 29p meant they now had no option.

ritzy closed today
What was obvious, however, was the continuing and growing support from the local community. I spoke to Jamila from local newspaper the Brixton Bugle who said:

“The local community is well behind this strike. Picturehouse should have the courtesy to pay those who work for them a decent wage while they’re raking in the profits. The Living Wage is the bare minimum we’d expect them to pay their dedicated band of loyal staff – many of whom have worked here for years and years.
I work for the Brixton Bugle a local free newspaper but when we put the Ritzy campaign on our front page the Ritzy management refused to stock it and have refused to stock it since. The strike is an embarrassment to them, but ending it would be so easy for them to do.”

Julie James came down with her daughter:

“Anyone living in London should be entitled to the Living Wage. I don’t live in Brixton anymore, but I used to work in Stockwell. The Ritzy isn’t just an ordinary cinema – it’s a popular hub – its part of the community, so why shouldn’t the staff expect a decent wage? Not paying them Living Wage goes against everything this cinema says it is about. I read about the campaign in the Evening Standard and it’s great they covered it but we need to get the message out even more.”

On Saturdays the Ritzy normally runs a Kids Club. In order not to impact on those who bring their children there, the strikers set up their own free pop-up kids club in Windrush Square complete with hula hoops, bubbles and face painting.

I spoke to Julie’s daughter, Tyra, as she was having her face painted:

“I’m 4 years old. I’ve never been to this cinema but I won’t go now. I like the face painting. This is the best kids club I have ever been to and now I am a butterfly.”

Support for the strike also came from the 50,000 strong People’s Assembly demo in central London. Russell Brand, and comedians Francesca Martinez and Mark Steel all held up a message of support and donned Living Wage stickers.

Mark Steel

 

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Supporters should head down to Pride next Saturday to see the Ritzy Living Wage float!

Visit www.ritzylivingwage.org to sign the petition and follow @RitzyLivingWage on Twitter

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