A cinema that was forced to pay the London Living Wage of £8.80 an hour by the trade union BECTU has announced it will finance the wage increases by sacking around a fifth of it’s staff. Picturehouse Cinemas told the Evening Standard that it could only afford to pay the increased wages at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton if it made around 20 staff redundant.
The announcement follows a year long campaign to force the company to put up wages. When it was over the trade union and staff assumed they had won a significant concession, but Picturehouse could not afford to absorb the extra costs so came up with the ‘solution’ of cutting staff.
They plan to make two management staff redundant along with eight supervisors, three technical staff and others from the front of house team. The Ritzy currently has a staff of 93.
BECTU have now threatened more strikes, saying the move was a “kick in the teeth”. Union official Willy Donaghy said: “The duplicity of these people knows no bounds. What they have done as soon as the deal was implemented is to employ an individual with a reputation for being a ‘union blaster’. This is payback, without a doubt. I expect our members to be totally outraged by this.”
Workers posted on Facebook: “This is nothing short of pure vindictive retaliation because we the workers showed that with determination and collectively, we could effect change to make our lives that tiny bit more comfortable.”
A Picturehouse spokesman said the chain was looking at staff changes to save money after the pay deal was agreed last month. He said: “The staff at The Ritzy recently agreed a pay package with Picturehouse Cinemas, which includes substantial pay increases across four years.
“During the negotiation process it was discussed that the amount of income available to distribute to staff would not be increasing, and that the consequence of such levels of increase to pay rates would be fewer people with more highly paid jobs.”
The redundancies are expected to start later this month and take three months to complete.