London cinema workers fight for a living wage

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In a scene far removed from the riches of Hollywood, cinema workers across London are forming grassroots campaigns that they hope will force their employers to introduce a living wage salary.

The staff, who work for Picturehouse Cinemas, have been organising frequent strike action against the company in an attempt to achieve a wage deemed suitable for living in the capital.

In Hackney, Picturehouse staff have been on strike three times in a six week period, while their counterparts at Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema have been at the forefront of living wage campaigns for over two years.

The Ritzy campaigners achieved some success in 2014, when strike action resulted in Picturehouse agreeing to pay staff £9.10 per hour.

However, according to campaigning staff, this agreement saw the company promising to return for further pay negotiations at a later stage.

They say this promise was not kept as over two years after the original agreement Picturehouse have not yet returned to the negotiating table.

According to the Living Wage foundation individuals in London should currently be receiving at least £9.75 an hour to sustain an adequate level of living.

However, as the foundation’s research is independent and advisory, there is no legal obligation for companies to comply.

In response to the strike action, Picturehouse cinemas stated:

“A three year Agreement with BECTU signed in July 2014 set pay rates for our people at the Ritzy, not including benefits, at £9.10 from 2nd September 2016 after three phased increases.

“Our people at the Hackney Picturehouse are represented by the Forum, a recognised union, and we negotiate pay rates each year, and negotiations for 2016 are just about to start. We are therefore disappointed by the decision of a minority of our people, 26 out of 82, who voted for strike action,” the statement continued.

“Our people are hugely important to us, we pay fair wages and have a wide range of benefits within a good working environment. Increases in pay for front-of-house people in Picturehouse Cinemas have far outstripped inflation over the last three years.”




Featured image by James Cropper.

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