Ritzy Picturehouse picket line, Brixton, 24.9.16, photo by James Ivens

Ritzy Picturehouse picket line, Brixton, 24.9.16, photo by James Ivens   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Laurence Maples, Lambeth Socialist Party

Buoyed by Jeremy Corbyn’s crushing victory over the Blairites, striking Ritzy cinema workers walked out and created a loud, bustling picket lines that shut down the Brixton cinema at midday on 24 September mirroring their previous strike two years ago.

Carrying banners declaring “the Ritzy strikes back” and accompanied by the Star Wars theme music, they showed their determination to finish what they had started. The cinema was shut down again as the square outside was flooded with supporters.

In 2014 workers took 13 days of strike action in their fight for the London Living Wage (LLW). They ran a high profile campaign with vibrant picket lines successfully shutting the cinema and forcing management to back down. They won a 26% pay increase, back pay going back nearly a year and an agreement from management to implement the LLW this year.

Management have reneged on this agreement in pay negotiations and the workers’ minimum pay remains at £8.80 an hour – 60p short of the LLW. They have also failed to address workers’ concerns on pay differentials, treatment of new staff, maternity and paternity pay and night pay. This attack has forced the workers to respond. They balloted for action and secured a 90% yes vote – 80% of the workforce is in the union.

The Ritzy workers have also spent the last two years assisting other cinema workers in organising, both within the Picturehouse group and outside.

As a result, they now stand with other workers in their struggle. Hackney Picturehouse workers are balloting for strike action to win the LLW and union recognition – some of them joined Ritzy workers on the picket line.

They won before and can do it again.