Cinema staff go on strike over London Living Wage

Ritzy cinema staff on strike Image copyright Jess Hart/TUC
Image caption The staff currently earn about £7.50 per hour

Workers at a cinema in south London have gone on strike in protest over not being paid the London Living Wage.

It is the seventh time staff at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton have taken industrial action.

The London Living Wage, which is backed by Mayor Boris Johnson, is currently £8.80 an hour. Staff at the cinema receive a starting wage of £7.53.

The cinema's owner said it had offered staff a 4% rise with a chance to earn 13% extra each week in bonuses.

But Rob Lugg, the union representative at the cinema, said for staff to achieve the bonus, they had to achieve 100% in the mystery shopper test which included tasks "which were impossible" to achieve such as attempting to sell every customer membership.

"London is the most expensive city in world and there is a massive escalating problem in the country with low pay and zero hour contracts," he said.

"We want to inspire local workers that you don't have to put up with living on poverty pay, not being able to feed your kids or make ends meet but that actually working people can work with unions and fight back and get a decent, basic, standard of living."

Business plan

But Picturehouse said the mystery shopper task was not impossible, and that staff had achieved it in the first week of the scheme. It also added that it had wanted to reduce zero hour contracts, but said staff had told the union they wanted to keep them because of the flexibility it gave them.

Picturehouse managing director Lyn Goleby said: "We have always tried to be a fair employer and pay fair rates; we are one of the highest paying employers in Brixton and in the cinema industry.

"We are completely sympathetic to the difficulties of living in London with the ongoing property and cost of living crisis.

"However, we cannot predict the future levels of the London Living Wage and we cannot build a business plan around a rate that is not within our ability to forecast."

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