Staff at the Ritzy cinema demonstrated in Windrush Square at 6pm today (16 June) to protest the sacking of three union representatives at the cinema. They had support from author and political commentator Owen Jones who spoke at the event.
Three members of staff were sacked this week and another has received a final written warning in a move the workers’ union BECTU is calling “clear union victimisation”. The disciplinary action relates to discussions that took place at a private union meeting, details of which were sent out on a union branch email that was seen by the Picturehouse company.
Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, said: “we believe that our reps at the Ritzy have been dismissed due to their trade union membership and activities and we will challenge these decisions in the strongest terms. Our reps across Picturehouse have been fighting for fair pay and for dignity at work.” BECTU will now launch employment tribunal claims and seek interim relief for the dismissals.
A Picturehouse spokesperson said today: “Picturehouse has recently been subject to cyber attacks on its website. A few weeks ago, an email was sent from a BECTU email address instructing employees to encourage further cyber attacks in support of strike action. BECTU disassociated itself from any such unlawful activity and we began an investigation into who was responsible. As a result of this investigation we initiated a disciplinary process in relation to a few employees potentially involved. They will have the right to appeal against any decisions that are taken and therefore, we cannot comment further at this stage.”
Picturehouse did not explain the nature of these “cyber attacks|.
In response to this, BECTU told the Brixton Blog: ‘The email in question was a summary of discussion topics at a union meeting. Nothing more. The sacking of the 3 reps in question is clear union victimisation…It is very disappointing that Picturehouse and their owners Cineworld would dismiss their staff and spend huge amounts of money on lawyers to avoid paying their workers a Living Wage. Reinstate the Ritzy reps. Pay the Living Wage.’
The campaign A Living Wage for Ritzy Staff called for supporters to “bring yourselves and your loudest voices” to the protest today.