RITZY PAY ROW: Cinema staff to strike over Easter weekend

Staff strike for a Living Wage
Staff strike for a Living Wage

Fresh strikes dates have been announced over the Bank Holiday weekend in an ongoing row over pay between staff and bosses at the Ritzy cinema’s parent-company Picturehouse.

The action, which starts tomorrow at 5pm, follows an initial strike last Friday that saw Windrush Square occupied by cinema staff and supporters for over 12 hours.

The focal point of the protest will take place during the day on Easter Saturday with cinema staff providing entertainment for the public.

Plans include live music, dance and an Easter egg hunt.

Union representative and Ritzy staff member, Marc Cowen told the Blog: “We’re trying to deliver a serious message and in exchange we’re offering the community something a bit more entertaining, rather than just asking them to go elsewhere.”

Staff will also be outside the cinema on Friday, talking to the public to provide information on their campaign to receive the London Living Wage, currently set at £8.80 per hour.

Ritzy strike placards
Ritzy strike placards

Cinema staff are represented by BECTU, the media and entertainment union.

BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey, said: “Is Ritzy’s management really saying that their staff are not worth the London Living Wage?

“The venue’s current resistance to the London Living Wage is not about affordability.

“The parent company is a profitable multi-national and can well afford to recognise the cost of living in the capital by agreeing to link pay policy to a measure which is being recognised increasingly.”

Morrissey added: “A living wage is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

Campaigners outside the cinema. Picture from www.facebook.com/RitzyLivingWage
Campaigners outside the cinema. Picture from www.facebook.com/RitzyLivingWage

Managing director of Picturehouse Cinemas Lyn Goleby said: “We are working towards a position where we can offer higher pay but at this point, we cannot do so without risking job losses across the wider Picturehouse group.

“We will continue to work with BECTU to try to resolve the issue quickly and we hope that our customers will bear with us while this process comes to a conclusion.”

According to Ritzy worker and BECTU union rep, Rob Lugg, the campaign has received overwhelming support, particularly through Facebook and Twitter.

Lugg told the Blog: “There were thousands of tweets about us – a number of celebrities tweeted about us including Owen Jones, Deborah Orr and Jay Rayner.

“We had people tweeting across London and from customers at other Picturehouses around the country.”

Supporters of the campaign can get involved in a number of ways.

Businesses in Brixton can show their support by displaying campaign posters in their windows over the long weekend.

Performers, musicians and comedians are invited to contribute to the entertainment in the square on Saturday afternoon.

Strike action is set to begin at 5pm tomorrow until 3am on Easter Sunday.

Picturehouse have confirmed that the Ritzy will remain closed for the duration of the strike.


  1. Couple of observations: Ken Loach may support the campaign, but his support appears to have limits as he is happy to release his film and take profits with the company.
    A quick audit recently showed that the company Picturehpuse pay staff some of the best wages in London cinemas, so taking your business elsewhere as a customer only endorses far worse pay.
    As with all media stories it’s good to get a rounded view of the facts

  2. Anyone would think that life in Brixton revolved around life at the Little Bit Ritzy.

    Judging by the photograph at the head of the article, it appears that they have some way to go to ensure that their employment policies reflect the “diversity” of Brixton’s “multicultural” community.

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