Ritzy workers plan week-long strike

Ritzy campaigners outside the cinema,

Workers campaigning to be paid the London Living Wage at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema will join other Picturehouse chain employees in a week of action beginning next Saturday, 17 February.

This will be the first week-long strike in the long-running campaign.

“This escalation of the action demonstrates the enduring commitment of members to the campaign, despite continued hostility from the company and its refusal to sit down with the union to discuss ways to resolve the dispute,” said the cinema union BECTU, which represents the workers.

The action will run continuously from 5am on Saturday 17 February to 5am on Saturday 24 February and will coincide with the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards ceremony on Sunday 18 February.

As well as the Ritzy, there will be strikes at the East Dulwich Picturehouse, Crouch End Picturehouse, Hackney Picturehouse and Picturehouse Central in the West End.

BECTU and its members are appealing for donations to their crowd-funded strike fund which already stands at more than £25,000 but will be depleted by the new action.

Many prominent UK cinema figures are backing the strikers’ call for a boycott of the cinemas.

Helen Ryan, BECTU assistant national secretary, said: “This week of intense strike action shows yet again that our members remain committed to securing the real Living Wage.

“Our invitation to Picturehouse to meet with BECTU with a view to resolving the dispute remains open.”

“With every passing day the case for the real Living Wage is reinforced as consumer costs rise.”

The current phase of the campaign, which, at the Ritzy dates back several years, started in September 2016. Since then, the campaign has expanded to take in more cinemas. Across all the venues involved, the days of action since 2016 make the dispute the longest ever industrial campaign in UK cinemas.

An earlier phase of the campaign for the Living Wage, led by workers at the Ritzy, ran from April 2013 to August 2014.

Community support for the campaign remains strong. BECTU said that Picturehouse clients recognises that “the case for the Living Wage is indisputable – especially when the company claims to be one of integrity and conscience”.

At the end of last year, Cineworld, the owner of Picturehouse, announced plans to buy the US chain Regal for close to $4billion.