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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 September 2014

Ritzy cinema workers vote to continue struggle for living wage

Laurence Maples

Workers at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, south London, have been involved in a long, bold campaign for the London Living Wage of £8.80 an hour.

They took 11 days of very well supported strike action, maintained lively pickets, marched round London, linked up with other cinema workers, reached out to the local community and encouraged supporters to boycott the Picturehouse chain of cinemas which the Ritzy is part of.

The most recent strike day in July saw management open the cinema with a scab operation, having previously closed the cinema during every strike.

A noisy, vibrant mass picket highlighted the hypocrisy of cinema bosses who raked in £31 million profits yet won't pay their staff a living wage!

Many potential customers turned away when the strikers explained the dispute, even though the miserly bosses refused to refund pre-booked tickets.

The strikes forced Picturehouse management to offer a pay rise to £8.80 an hour, phased in incrementally by September 2015, with an immediate increase to £8 an hour backdated to October 2013.

That this offer was made at all is a testament to the strikers' hard work and disciplined approach to the dispute.

It represents an excellent achievement at a time when most workers are faced with austerity and having their pay cut in real terms, and shows that striking works.

However, it falls short of the London Living Wage, which is likely to increase by September 2015, and the Ritzy staff have marginally voted to reject it.

If they are unable to reach an agreement with management and wish to wage further action, it is important to persuade all those who voted for the offer to support more strikes, while continuing to recruit Picturehouse workers at other cinemas to their union BECTU.

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In The Socialist 3 September 2014:


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