13 April 2014
On Friday the Ritzy cinema in Brixton was shut. The Ritzy, usually a bustling place, lying at the centre of the community in Windrush Square, was shut down by Picture House management. Management produced posters on the front of the building which told the public that ‘some’ staff had decided to strike. This seemed to contradict the idea that they were forced to shut!
The poster portrayed an image of the Ritzy ‘torn apart’ by the dispute. But it’s management that are ripping up an asset to the Brixton community.
The strikers, members of BECTU are only demanding a living wage. As rents in Brixton soar, workers at the cinema simply can’t afford to work at the Ritzy as things stand.
The picket line was lively, to say the least! Up to sixty strikers formed the basis of the protest outside the cinema. They were joined by supporters from council workers who are members of Lambeth Unison, teachers from Lambeth college, who themselves were on strike last week, teachers from the NUT union in Lambeth, and of course fellow BECTU members from neighbouring branches.
Visiting trade unionists were inspired and cheered by the lively picket which involved conga lines and drumming! The picket reached out to the public who were very supportive.
Lots of people driving by the busy junction, in the centre of Brixton, beeped their horns, especially many of the bus drivers!
Strikers were overwhelmed by support from the public. Cinema users passing by were shocked that their ticket prices and the amount they have to pay for cinema snacks and drinks at the bar didn’t pay for a proper wage for their staff.
One passerby said “I’m really upset by the Ritzy’s treatment of their staff, they are always so helpful and the cinema’s always so busy. I think I have to seriously reconsider my membership.”
The strike has also received important support from director Ken Loach and writer Irvine Welsh.
The Ritzy workers have decided that they will strike again over the bank holiday weekend. They will strike from 5pm tip 3am on Friday 18 April through until 3am on Sunday 20 April.
You can send a message of support to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can send emails of complaint to management here to:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Visit the Facebook page ‘A Living Wage for Ritzy Staff’ at www.facebook.com/RitzyLivingWage
Follow the campaign on twitter: @RitzyLivingWage
Donations should be made payable to ‘BECTU’ and sent to Ritzy strike, Finance Office, 373-377 Clapham Road, London SW9 9BT
The announcement of the strike dates is on the BECTU website here: https://www.bectu.org.uk/news/2154