Cinema Workers Strike:

BECTU Strike Ballot at Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema

BECTU Members are Voting in a Ballot for industrial action at The Ritzy Cinema.

9 August 2016

BECTU Members who work at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton are being asked to vote yes in a ballot for industrial action. The ballot gets underway on Tuesday 9 August 2016 with a closing date of 30 August.

Picturehouse reject pay claim

Union members at the cinema have been engaged in a long campaign to win the London Living Wage (LLW), which is currently £9.40 per hour. Ahead of talks with the management, BECTU tabled a pay claim to achieve that goal. Picturehouse Cinemas Limited refused to engage in negotiations at all and simply rejected the claim in its entirety, leaving the union with no choice but to ballot for industrial action. The company also ignored the offer of talks at ACAS.

The current minimum rate at The Ritzy is £8.80 per hour which falls some way short of the current level of the LLW (£9.40). As well as seeking the new minimum rate of pay, BECTU’s rejected claim also addressed issues around differentials, treatment of new staff, maternity and paternity leave and night pay.

BECTU’s Assistant General Secretary, Luke Crawley, said:

“BECTU has tried to talk to Picturehouse Ltd but the company are being very hard faced in ignoring our pay claim. Union members at The Ritzy have shown how strong they can be when working together.

“No one wants to go on strike and we would rather settle this by talking but the company has ignored our offer. Members need to vote yes and send a strong message to the company.”

2014 Living Staff Living Wage Campaign

In 2014 BECTU members fought a long and successful campaign (including 13 strikes) in pursuit of the London Living Wage as defined by the Living Wage Foundation. They set up their own Twitter account and Facebook group. The campaign made extensive use of social media and also involved the local community in highlighting the unfairness of the company’s position.

The campaign received widespread press coverage and played a significant role in bringing Picturehouse back to the table. After lengthy talks the union members finally voted to accept a package which moved them very close to achieving their goal and left the door open for further talks this year.

What happened next?

Since concluding the deal in 2014 BECTU has been seeking recognition for staff employed by Picturehouse Ltd at other cinemas. Despite success in recruiting those members the company has refused to accept BECTU as the union to represent their staff, preferring to talk to an in–house staff association.

Assistant General Secretary, Luke Crawley, has said:

“This looks set to be a re–run of the successful campaign in 2014 which used social media and innovative campaigning to expose the bad attitude of the company, causing them significant reputational damage.

“Rather than suffer further humiliation the company should sit down and talk to us about paying the London Living Wage to their staff at The Ritzy.”

All Ritzy union members are being encouraged to use their vote. The ballot will close at 12 noon on Tuesday 30th August.


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