Boost for Ritzy Picturehouse living wage campaign

BECTU general secretary Gerry Morrissey addresses strikers and supporters at a recent strike by Ritzy workers
BECTU cinema union general secretary Gerry Morrissey addresses strikers and supporters at a strike by Ritzy workers earlier this month

The campaign for a living wage for workers in the Picturehouse cinema chain received a boost last night when Lewisham council chose the Curzon chain – which is a living wage employer – rather than Picturehouse to create a new cinema.

As local news blog 853 had reported, the council was under pressure not to choose Picturehouse because of its refusal to pay the living wage and its sacking of four representatives of the cinema union BECTU at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema where the campaign began.

The Picturehouse workers’ call for a boycott of the chain has received widespread support from leading figures in the cinema industry. Dozens recently called on Picturehouse to settle the dispute because of the effect it is having on the UK industry.

Lewisham’s decision will renew interest in how Lambeth council, also a living wage employer, will realise its plan to have Picturehouse pay the living wage at a new cinema in West Norwood.

It is on the former site of a council library which is being redeveloped jointly by Picturehouse and the council, with the cinema chain getting millions of pounds of council money as part of the deal – details in an earlier Blog post.

Picturehouse, which tries to position itself as an arthouse chain with an interest in the community, is part of the large and hugely profitable international company Cineworld.