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10 March 2014

After protracted pay negotiations, BECTU members at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton are to be balloted for industrial action over pay.

Ballot papers will be issued on Tuesday 18 March and will ask members whether they are willing to support strike action and/or action short of strike in pursuit of the union's claim for the phased introduction of the London Living Wage. The strike ballot will close on Monday 31 March.

BECTU has been in pay talks with management of the Ritzy Cinema since August last year.

The union's claim is for agreement on the phased introduction of the London Living Wage (LLW) as a minimum rate for staff at the Ritzy.

The company's latest offer would take the minimum rate at the venue to £8.80 by October 2015, but without linkage to the LLW, a key sticking point for union members.

The current rate for the LLW is £8.80 and this has been in place since October 2013.

Growing observance of LLW in London

The company has made several offers but each of these have been overwhelmingly rejected by the members. The company has threatened that any ballot for industrial action will mean that the previous offer would be taken off the table.

The Ritzy cinema and the company that owns it, Picturehouse Cinemas, will not accept that minimum pay at the Ritzy should be linked to the LLW. This is despite the LLW being endorsed by London mayor, Boris Johnson and being in wide use by hospitals, banks, insurance companies, and other employers throughout London. 

Assistant general secretary Luke Crawley said:

"Our members have been more than reasonable during discussions about a phased introduction of the LLW but it is now clear that the company will not accept the principle of the London Living Wage.

 "BECTU members at the Ritzy do not respond well to threats from the management, which only confirms their resolve to achieve the LLW. They believe they have demonstrated a willingness to take part in talks which have now been discarded by the company.

"BECTU members at the Ritzy are adamant that going forward the LLW should set a floor for all pay at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton."

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