After a meeting between BECTU reps and Picturehouse on the 14th February at ACAS, both sides were unable to reach agreement, with the union subsequently signalling its intention to ballot for industrial action.
In response to the statement released by the Ritzy staff on March 10th, Picurehouse have now made their own statement where they argue that their staff are already paid fairly:
Pay at The Ritzy
We’ve actively been in discussions with BECTU about pay rates for ushers and bar staff at The Ritzy since last August, and sadly the Ritzy staff are balloting on whether to take strike action if front-of-house staff are not paid the London Living Wage of £18,304 for a 40-hour week.
In common with most Brixton employers we do not pay wages at this level for our front-line staff, but for over ten years we have paid substantially more than the national minimum wage, and there are full benefits such as sick pay, discounts on food and drink and unlimited free tickets. We offered a package that would have increased wages by 21.5% over 20 months but this has been turned down.
We have actively supported staff who want to work part-time (25% of the 104 staff work less than 16 hours a week) and fixed (non-zero hours) contracts have been offered to those who want them. However, the principle of changing to a mix of fixed and zero-hours contracts has also been resisted by staff representatives.
We have always tried to be a fair employer that pays fair rates, and we are one of the highest paying employers in Brixton and in the cinema industry. We understand the principle of the living wage and we have been trying to negotiate a way to achieve this.
We cannot increase pay at a rate that could damage the wider Picturehouse group or cause job losses. We are on a journey to even better pay but we have many cinemas to take into account. It is important that everyone has their say, but industrial action will not speed up the process towards better pay for everyone – in fact it could well hinder our aims for this.
What do you think of Picturehouse’s position? Do you think the Ritzy staff are right to demand what they believe to be a fair wage?
Discuss this issues on the urban75 boards.
More: A Living Wage for Ritzy Staff [campaign page]