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Ritzy cinema workers win 26% pay rise
Laurence Maples, Lambeth Socialist Party
Bectu union members at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, London, have won a major victory in their fight against low pay and for the Living Wage with a 26% pay increase over three years.
Pay will increase from £7.35 to £8 an hour, backdated to October 2013, with a series of rises up to £8.80 by September 2015. There will be talks on further increases in June 2016 with a guaranteed rise to at least £9.10.
They have also won increased employer pensions contributions and pay increases for projectionists.
They have fought a determined campaign since April. The strikes were rock solid and forced management to close the cinema on 12 out of the 13 strike days.
On the final strike day management attempted to run a scab operation, and were met by an enormous picket, including steel pan players, drummers and dancers, which persuaded potential cinemagoers not to cross the picket line, despite the miserly refusal by the bosses to refund pre-booked customers.
The cinema was showing a live stream from the Monty Python comeback tour, but Python Terry Jones tweeted in support of the strike urging people not to cross the picket line.
The campaign has also attracted lots of support from the local community and the trade union movement. A boycott of the cinema's head group, Picturehouse, was supported by the TUC.
This victory puts the lie to the bosses' claim that they cannot afford to pay workers enough to live on. It shows that when you organise, you can fight and win. The successful dispute now serves as an opportunity to unionise cinema workers across the industry.
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