Staff at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema are campaigning for a London Living Wage, claiming that the wage policies of the Picturehouses company do not chime with its ethical public image.
Ritzy staff are paid £7.24 an hour, while the London Living Wage now stands at £8.80 an hour and is calculated on the cost of living in the city.
The Living Wage was raised to £8.80 in November and in fact staff members of BECTU, the broadcasting union, have been negotiating with owners Picturehouse Ltd to only be paid the rate set before November, £8.55 an hour.
Talks mediated through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) will start up again on February 14. Reps from the Ritzy staff said that they could not comment until those talks had taken place.
A leaflet distributed in support of the campaign says: “Recently bought out by Cineworld, the Ritzy is one of the highest grossing Picturehouse cinemas. Pitching themselves as an ethical enterprise, they host the Human Rights Film Festival, sell fair-trade chocolate and support charities, whilst not currently paying a living wage to their staff”.
Rhys Moore, director of the London Living Wage Foundation, gave his support to the campaign. “This is the staff locally picking this up and running with it. In other areas where we’ve had success especially with organisations like the Ritzy, which has a customer base and is local, it’s very helpful to draw on local people’s support. From the point of view of the Living Wage Foundation, if there are readers of the Brixton Blog who would think this is the right thing to do I would encourage them to write to the Picturehouse company.”
The number of employers signing up to paying the Living Wage has increased dramatically over the past 18 months, going from just 40 companies to 520. “It’s about putting wages back in the picture”, said Rhys Moore. “Companies that do have an ethical reputation and are in many ways leading businesses often have this achilles heal that has been forgotten.”
When contacted, the Picturehouses press office was not able to comment and we await their response.
This article was updated from one on published on January 13 which incorrectly stated that staff earn the minimum wage and went on strike last year.