Picturehouse U-turns on Ritzy redundancies

Ritzy staff  in Brixton have been campaigning for a year for the London Living Wage
Ritzy staff in Brixton have been campaigning for a year for the London Living Wage

Ritzy Cinema owner Picturehouse has confirmed to Brixton Blog that planned redundancies will no longer be going ahead.

Just days after Picturehouse announced sweeping job losses at Ritzy Cinema – following a successful year-long campaign for staff at Brixton’s beloved cinema to be paid the London Living Wage – the company has U-turned.

“Picturehouse is pleased to announce that the Ritzy Brixton consultation process has now ceased,” Ritzy Cinema tweeted.

While cast-iron guarantees aren’t out in the open yet, with trade union Bectu cautiously welcoming the news, this is a huge victory for supporters of the Ritzy Living Wage campaign.

The news comes in the wake of Curzon Cinemas yesterday announcing that it will pay all staff the London Living Wage in its cinemas across the capital – heaping further pressure on the beleaguered Picturehouse.

We love the Ritzy. We love its staff. Is this the outcome we’ve all been waiting for – or do further twists lie in wait?

This has been going on for a year now – what are your thoughts on it all? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. You asked for my comments. I think it ironic that the Brixton Blog supports the local campaign for a living wage at the Ritzy but doesn’t pay all of its reporters or journalists. The Blog blames this on a broken online model that the industry itself is currently contending with. Its solution – to run a community newspaper/online blog.
    Trouble is, the blog appears to have set itself up without having sufficient funds and is now scraping around trying to find funds to pay a part time news editor (ie. one of the people at the top of the hierachy). This isn’t my idea of community work, why not pay people equally? Why launch a project with insufficient funds? Don’t we need sustainable news industry? Don’t we need businesses that pay people? It really is no good pretending that this journalism is some kind of hobby where most of the jobs are not worth of paying. They are real jobs and worth paying staff for.
    There is a massive contradiction at play here, either pay people, or don’t pay people, they are all using journalistic/publishing skills, don’t just pay those at the top of the hierachy. Then throw in the fact that the Blog ‘trains’ newcomers and you’ve got a blog that isn’t currently able to fund itself but is churning out yet more journos into a profession that they claim is in decline.
    This is crazy short termism. I appreciate you guys have good intentions but come on guys, hardly anyone is being paid and you censor those who query your business model.
    Youngsters need jobs, not ‘opportunities’ and real journalists need real jobs. This model isn’t the solution, you’re employing journalists not on their skills but on their willingness to work for free. The NUJ would be outraged, isn’t it about time that you at least had this discussion with your readers and were honest and open that no one is being paid here – you know like the Huffington Post?

    • Dear “wellwisher”,

      I’m one of the co-editors of the Blog. Thank you for your post – I appreciate the question, even if I think (with total understanding) you’ve rather got the wrong end of the stick.

      You’ve got lots of points here so I’m going to deal with some of them separately. The first is your assertion that we are hiding our business model from our readers. In fact, we are extremely honest and open with our readers about the fact that most of our journalists and volunteers (including our editors, of course) are not being paid. I point you in the direction of the Bugle editorial this month, which I wrote earlier this week, as well as the FAQs and information in our crowdfunder, and the editorial we wrote on the Blog about it last month, as well as an editorial when we launched our donations section on the website, and countless tweets/conversations/facebook updates over the four years we have existed in which we openly discuss these issues. Note, as co-editor and owner of the Brixton Blog I do not pay myself. Tim, the other editor, has been paid for a few days a week for some months of this year, although recently we have struggled to do that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could pay him and others? The fact that we haven’t been able to pay many people – and would like to – is of course why we are doing the fundraiser in the first place.

      I know that people love a conspiracy theory, but I have to say that the Brixton Blog is really not the place you are going to find one. The idea that, in January 2010 aged 23, I sat down and came up with an evil plan to “launch a project with insufficient funds” to “churn out yet more journos into a profession in decline” is laughable. I can honestly say I did not expect my bedroom project to become so popular so quickly and to expand into what the Brixton Blog is now – the reason it did is because people in Brixton love their area and want to know about it. They weren’t getting that at the time and they are now, not just from us but from Brixton Buzz too.

      The reason we have continued the Blog is because we love doing it. It’s actually as simple as that. And we understand that there is a very important role it can play in the local area, which has mattered far more to us than paying ourselves. We have juggled other jobs to make it work. Many of our journalists write for us in their spare time because they have the same passion for producing the paper as we do. Sometimes they are not able to give as much time as they would like to and sometimes they stop writing for us altogether because they need to focus on their actual, paying jobs. We don’t force anyone to write for us and we are fully supportive of our friends (because that is what they are) when they feel they can’t give anymore time to the Blog.

      Of course, the point here is that in your analogy we are somehow exploiting ourselves – and while I thank you for defending my rights as a worker, I assert my own right to be able to work on a project I believe does good in the place I love. Note that many others are supportive of this too.

      What I do agree with you about is that journalism is a “real job and worth paying for” – which is why, of course, we are fundraising some money to pay one news editor. See it as a step along the way to our ultimate aim and dream, which is that in the end the Blog will be able to support a core team of paid journalists. And if we do that, then we really will have done something radical in the world of British media. If you support that idea, then you should be donating to the Blog rather than doing us down for attempting to employ someone to work more full time on the Blog than any of us are able to do to.

      Now, if you don’t mind, I am going to go enjoy my Sunday night, rather than not paying myself to answer your question – important though it is – about not paying myself 😉


      P.S. Our news editor will, of course, be paid at least the London Living Wage

  2. Hats off to them – the way they just kept going in such a reasoned and disciplined way was remarkable.

    They have shown the hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers in London that if you stick at it and stick together you can win!

    I’d be surprised if Cineworld come after them yet again – at least for a while. They have made themselves a daunting prospect.

    But they’ve got to endure the irony that while other cinema workers have bow and will get the LLW, they won’t – again at least for a while – having accepted the staged introduction. Next action – to get Cineworld to pay them bonuses to make up the difference.

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