29 October 2014
Ritzy job cuts prompt ballot for strike action
BECTU issued the following press release today, 28 October:
Job cuts at the Ritzy prompt strike action ballot
Members at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton are to vote on strike action in defence of their jobs following their employer’s decision last week to announce at least 20 job cuts. The decision to run a strike ballot follows a formal consultation meeting held today, 28 October, where management confirmed that as many as 34 out of 79 staff could be sacked.
The outrage of members at the Ritzy, who thought they had concluded a major industrial battle over wages, is shared by hundreds of local supporters. In addition large numbers of patrons of the Picturehouse chain, part of multi-national Cineworld, have taken to social media in the last few days to express their disbelief at the way management is treating its staff.
The announcement of job cuts comes just six weeks after the conclusion of an intense, hard-fought campaign to secure the London Living Wage. Between April and July this year, members at the cinema staged 13 strikes and gathered massive support both locally and nationally in support of their claim for a living wage.
In an effort to justify their actions, Picturehouse management is claiming that the ACAS agreement which settled the dispute specifically referenced job cuts to pay for the agreed wage increases. BECTU is clear that this statement is an untruth as management signed up to an agreement which makes clear that:
- Working patterns for existing staff will be maintained.
- The intention is not to reduce flexibility significantly.
- The company welcomes the commitment from the negotiating team to work in partnership with the Picturehouse management team to restore good will…
- The Ritzy management and BECTU are committed to working together in the future for the benefit of the cinema, staff and customers.
- Through natural wastage the number of shifts will be reviewed and some vacancies might not be filled.
Management returns to hostilities
Commenting on management’s return to hostilities – a campaign led by consultant, Gary Smith, who is someone known to BECTU as having a reputation as a union-buster – BECTU’s supervisory official, Willy Donaghy, said:
“Our members at the Ritzy will not stand by and let the agreement they fought long and hard for be torn up by management. Picturehouse’s decision to announce job cuts in breach of the agreement reached with staff just six weeks ago is simply outrageous.
“Honesty, integrity and ethics play no part in their management of staff at the Ritzy and that is plain for all to see. Our members at the Ritzy and beyond will not allow threats and intimidation to stop their campaign for a living wage.”
“Management’s actions are being read by everyone with an interest in the Ritzy’s campaign as victimisation, as pay back time, for the sustained and principled campaign which has inspired so many low-paid workers up and down the country.”
Ballot papers will be distributed to union members on 4 November and the ballot will run until 13 November. If the vote is positive, strike action could take place as early as 20 November.
Follow the Ritzy workers @ritzylivingwage @bectu