by New Worker correspondent
CINEMA workers from the Ritzy in Brixton, south London last week took strike action for the 10th time in their long-running battle for a living wage.
The Bectu members marched from the British Film Institute on the Southbank to City Hall and the office of London Mayor, Boris Johnson, for a rally where they were addressed by their union general secretary Gerry Morrissey.
They were joined by colleagues from the Curzon circuit, who earlier this year won a hard fought campaign to secure union recognition with their employer.
The adoption of the recommended London Living Wage (£8.80 an hour) and the Living Wage outside London (£7.65) is becoming increasingly central to efforts across Britain to address low pay.
Both rates are set by the Living Wage Foundation and have found support amongst hundreds of public and private sector employers. Mayor Boris Johnson is quoted on the Foundation’s website saying: “Paying the London Living Wage is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too.”
The National Minimum Wage (adult rate £6.31) is widely recognised on all sides as ineffective in the battle against poverty wages.
Despite nine strikes at the Ritzy, Picturehouses cinemas, part of the multi-national and profitable Cineworld, is digging in and shows no signs of wanting to resolve the dispute which has closed its most profitable cinema on all strike days.
When senior management walked away at the 11th hour from peace talks scheduled for 4th June, Bectu called for a wholesale boycott of all Picturehouse venues to press home the case. Several visits have taken place with Bectu officials receiving a warm welcome at each.
Bectu’s support for low-paid workers throughout the creative sector has seen the Living Wage adopted into pay structures by BBC Contractors, BFI IMAX, BFI Southbank (and amongst contractors engaged by the BFI), at ITV, the Royal Opera House and National Theatre.
As well as supporting Ritzy workers and other members seeking to embed the Living Wage into pay policy, Bectu is also seeking to secure the London Living Wage for workers in West End theatres as part of the pay and conditions claim submitted last week.