Brixton Ritzy staff: “Please, sir, may I have some more?” Bosses: “You’re fired.”

27 Oct
Ritzy staff campaign for the London Living Wage

Ritzy staff campaign for the London Living Wage

Next time you see one of those nicey-nicey adds for Picturehouse Cinemas that run before every screening, with smiling staff tending to enraptured patrons over Stuart Hancock’s beautiful and elegiac score, you have my permission to vomit into your box of overpriced popcorn.

I had been feeling good again about my lovely local cinema, the Brixton Ritzy, since the staff’s year-long campaign for something approaching the London Living Wage recently reached an amicable conclusion – even if the timing, which preceded the announcement of a giant gleaming refurbished Picturehouse in the Trocadero Centre, seemed a tad conveniently designed to deflect any negative publicity.

Well, it seems parent company Cineworld giveth with one hand and taketh with the other. They have just announced that because they are paying staff a little more, they will be sacking nearly a quarter of the Ritzy’s workforce: “at least” 20 out of 93. No other Picturehouse cinema is affected, because no other Picturehouse cinema has yet banded together to ask for a wage increase. They claim to have warned union Bectu that wage increases might entail redundancies, but the scale and speed has taken everyone by surprise.

I’m not a revolutionary or an idealist, but I do believe people should be paid enough to live on. Even George Osborne has been bitten on the arse by the now nearly non-existent power of unions and collective bargaining, when it was announced that though the jobless total had decreased, average Britons were being paid so little that there was an unexpected hole in tax revenues.

Picturehouse cinemas make money because they are friendly places where the cinephile patrons like to linger over a beer to discuss the movies they have seen. This image is reinforced by the aforementioned ad, which puts excellent customer service front and centre. Picturehouse are foolish to allow even the appearance of punishing or deterring those workers who, like Oliver Twist, dare to ask “Please, sir, can I have some more?”.

Sort it out, Picturehouse, before you do irreparable damage to your brand.

LATEST NEWS: Protest works!!! bit.ly/1wgUsC4

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7 Responses to “Brixton Ritzy staff: “Please, sir, may I have some more?” Bosses: “You’re fired.””

  1. Veronica Haidar October 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I totally agree that people should be paid enough to live on – especially given the skyrocketing cost of rents in London.

  2. dominicwells October 28, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    A Tory MEP and “human rights campaigner” (!) Tweeted triumphantly about the Ritzy redundancies that they proved raising the minimum wage as Milliband plans to do (still to less than the London Living Wage) = job losses. OR, you might naively think, the few extra payments of £2 more an hour COULD just come out of the £30 million profit Cineworld made last year………

  3. dominicwells October 28, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    My mistake! They actually made £31 million. So, doing the maths, that extra million I “forgot” about could pay an extra £2 per hour for 240 minimum-wage employees, and still give them £30 million profit.

  4. catmab October 29, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    It’s outrageous. Surely this must do some damage to the cosy, “we’re you’re local picturehouse” image they like to project – just looking at the development of the East Dulwich picture house project shows that they want this community buy-in. I’ll be sticking to the Peckhamplex!

  5. henry clayton October 30, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    disgusted with the ritzy and cineworld for doing this, the bosses have from the outset of the wage strikes taken the potential increase out directly on customers with some massive price hikes across the board leading it to be one of the most expensive places in Brixton currently.

    I have known some of the staff to have been working for picturehouse since they were 16-17 years old now in different parts of the country, they are excellent staff all round and Brixton Ritzy is according to picturehouse their most profitable cinema in London, there is utterly no need for these layoffs, they are doing it out of pure spite to discourage others from standing up for a fair wage.

    Brixton has rapidly become a very expensive place to live for those of us who have been here a long time, wages NEED to go up if people are to continue living in their homes locally, the cinema has raised it’s prices over and over and over again whilst at the same time refusing to increase staff pay in line with living costs and local housing prices.

    Cut up my membership card and posted it back to their head office, will not step foot in a picturehouse cinema again if these layoffs go through,

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