New Lambeth Picturehouse will not pay London Living Wage

The West Norwood Picturehouse site earlier this year
The West Norwood Picturehouse site earlier this year

Staff at the new Picturehouse cinema in West Norwood that shares its premises with a Lambeth council library and is due to open on 9 November will not be paid the London Living Wage.

The council said that it would continue to press Picturehouse to pay the Living Wage.

Workers at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema, also part of the Picturehouse chain, have been campaigning for the Living Wage and trade union rights for several years. An employment tribunal has ruled that union members involved in the campaign were unfairly dismissed.

The council prides itself on being a Living Wage employer and encouraging its contractors to follow suit.

It has contributed more than £3 million to the estimated total cost of about £6 million for the new cinema/library.

Picturehouse came up with the other £3 million and will be responsible for maintaining the building.

In December 2014 the council said it had “negotiated with Picturehouse that, in line with council policy, staff employed by the Picturehouse for the West Norwood cinema would be paid the equivalent of London Living Wage”.

The London Living Wage currently stands at £10.20 and is due to be reviewed soon.

Ritzy workers in Windrush Square at the weekend
Living Wage campaigners outside the Ritzy in Brixton

Picturehouse said that 25 new jobs would be created at the cinema and that all staff would be on fixed-term contracts paying a minimum of £9.99 per hour. This calculation is based on staff working an eight-hour shift including paid breaks.

“In addition to this base rate, and a range of staff benefits, bonuses are paid every month – making the West Norwood Library and Picturehouse among the highest-paid employees on the high street,” the company said.

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “All Lambeth library staff are paid at least the London Living Wage, in line with council policy.

“Lambeth council is proud to be a London Living Wage employer and first introduced the policy in 2012.

“The council’s contractors are also required to be London Living Wage employers.

“Council leader Cllr Lib Peck has met with Picturehouse on a number of occasions and recently wrote to their managing director calling on the company to sign up to the London Living Wage. That lobbying will continue in the hope that their policy changes soon.”

Picturehouse is part of the global cinema conglomerate Cineworld. Earlier this year it paid $3.6 billion for the US Regal cinema chain.

Cineworld Group plc made an operating profit of £127.5 million in the year to 31 December 2017, an increase of nearly 15% on the previous 12 months that was passed on to shareholders in increased dividend payments.

Announcing the delayed opening date, Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth council cabinet member for equalities and culture, said she was delighted by the opening.

“It is going to provide the local community with a wonderful resource for learning, culture and entertainment, with a fully stocked and staffed town centre library with excellent facilities and technology alongside a cinema and bar, with community meeting space and employment opportunities,” she said.

“It’s taken a little longer than we had hoped, but now it’s now ready to enjoy.”

The new cinema is planned to have four screens with approximate capacities ranging from 75 to 220.

The cinema and library will occupy a remodelled modernist building that was opened by Princess Margaret in 1969.

Stanley Kubrick shot scenes for A Clockwork Orange in and around the building in 1971.

The new uses retain its sequence of flat and sloping roofs and brick and tile floors.

There will be a café and bar in the main lobby.

The building will also house a community room that can accommodate 50 seats. It will have a kitchenette and be linked to the rear courtyard.