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Brixton Ritzy staff in pay dispute for London Living Wage with Picturehouse Cinemas

editor

hiraethified
This has been going on for ages now, so it seems worthwhile starting a thread about it.

Last month, staff union BECTU reps met with Picturehouses at ACAS and after failing to reach agreement, have formally notified Picturehouses of their intention to ballot for industrial action.

Here's the background to the dispute: http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2014/01/brixton-ritzy-staff-workers-fight-for-the-london-living-wage/

Today, Picturehouse released their own statement where they argue that the staff are already paid a far deal.


 

Dexter Deadwood

Left Voluntarily
Enforced Holiday
Banned
Solidarity with the workers. If The Ritzy really cares about its corporate social responsibility it should pay all its staff the London Living Wage. Perhaps it was just an oversight on their part what with them being really busy sourcing fair trade chocolate and occupying parts of Windrush Square.
 

Gramsci

Well-Known Member
The Picturehouse statement makes interesting reading.


In common with most Brixton employers we do not pay wages at this level for our front-line staff,
So that ok then. :rolleyes:

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.
This sounds ominous. Nor does Picturehouse explain exactly what they mean by this. Do they mean reducing the number of fixed contracts over time? Would create two tier workforce. Could be the thin end of the wedge if they started to hand out zero hour contracts.

In other types of business like security work zero hour contracts are becoming widely used.

Cineworld who now own Picturehouse chain use Zero hours for the Cineworld cinemas.



The founder of the UK's largest cinema chain has defended the company's widespread use of zero-hours contracts and pledged to continue using the controversial terms instead of offering fixed hours to employees.

Cineworld uses zero-hour contracts for 3,600 members of staff, or about 80% of its workforce, allowing the business to send workers home if business is quiet or change shift patterns each week.
I guess that Cineworld would want to gradually turn the Ritzy workforce into Zero Hours staff. With 20% remaining on fixed contracts.

This is as important an issue as the Living Wage.
 

Gramsci

Well-Known Member
Another thing. Now most cinemas have changed to digital projection they have reduced the number of projectionists. They are no longer needed. So that has saved cinemas money.
 

Gramsci

Well-Known Member
Zero Hours contracts

It is safe to say Marx would have cavilled with those who see zero-hour contracts as an expression of Britain's economic strength, a demonstration of flexible labour markets in action. He would have thought "reserve army of labour" a better description of conditions in which workers were expected to be permanently on call for an employer.
Firms only employ labour when they need it, so that the cost of employing an additional worker is equivalent to the extra output produced. Lower wages equals higher profit, leading eventually to higher investment and an increase in employment.
The issue is whether this equation works at an economy-wide level, the Keynesian doctrine is that driving down wages leads either to falling aggregate demand (leading to lower profits and pressure for even lower wages), a higher government bill for tax credits or increased individual debt.
Marx would have seen zero-hours contracts as the continuation of a long historical trend, stretching back to the mid-1960s when the profitability of western manufacturing firms started to fall. From that moment, he would say, the search was on for measures to boost profits, and this has manifested itself in a number of ways: by direct attacks on organised labour; by the increased financialisation of the economy; by the search for cheap raw materials whatever the environmental cost; and by asset bubbles. Accordingly, zero-hours contracts are the response to tougher conditions facing firms as a result of the financial crisis. Reversing that trend will require more than legislation: it will mean tackling one of the root causes of that crisis: the imbalance of power in the labour market
 

Smick

Strictly Second Class
Another thing. Now most cinemas have changed to digital projection they have reduced the number of projectionists. They are no longer needed. So that has saved cinemas money.
Especially as it was one of the more skilled jobs. The films can now come directly from the film company's server at a pre-programmed time. No human involvement.

Selling tickets online also saves them.

There will soon be three jobs in there. Checking tickets, selling popcorn and cleaning up.

It's no wonder they don't want to pay more. It's a race to the bottom skillswise.
 

Hocus Eye.

Snap, crop, scrap crap
R.I.P.
It looks like the employers don't want to concede to the workers in this particular cinema because of the knock-on effect it could on other cinemas in the chain. Perhaps the dispute itself needs to be escalated to these other workplaces.
 

Dexter Deadwood

Left Voluntarily
Enforced Holiday
Banned
The Ritzy can screen it's films with a robot projector but that robot can't buy a ticket. They can sell their tickets online, no one really objects to any of that but we all like the human touch, a bit of interaction especially in the hospitality/entertainment industry. If that's reduced to précarité popcorn sellers and surly security guards who let's not forget tried to stop people using the toilets when we turned out to party and prove Thatcher wrong on April 8th last year, then maybe none of it's any fun.
 

DJWrongspeed

radio eros
I can see the problem for Picturehouse is that they're a big chain and will have trouble differentiating between Ritzy staff and other cinemas. Not sure how they can resolve that realistically. If they jumped to £8.80 for all London staff it may be untenable for the organisation? What does anyone think?
 

editor

hiraethified
I can see the problem for Picturehouse is that they're a big chain and will have trouble differentiating between Ritzy staff and other cinemas. Not sure how they can resolve that realistically. If they jumped to £8.80 for all London staff it may be untenable for the organisation? What does anyone think?
Picturehouse is owned by Cineworld, the country's biggest cinema operator. They employ 80% of its 4,300 staff on zero hour contracts.
I'm pretty sure they could afford to pay their staff a decent wage.
 

Lo Siento.

Second As Farce
The Picturehouse statement makes interesting reading.
So that ok then. :rolleyes:
Pretty damning for retail businesses in Brixton in general. What kind of excuse is that? Everybody else round here pays poverty wages, so why not us? Salaries have also got to represent a pretty negligible part of their total costs too.

Incidentally, it's interesting to see the effects of the declining value of the minimum wage in London. One of the happy side effects (for capital) or having a statutory minimum wage is that in acting as a floor it keeps everyone above subsistence level without having to organise and make demands. Seems to me that you can discern a gentle spread of living wage campaigns in places where the statutory minimum (or slightly above) isn't enough for subsistence.
 

Smick

Strictly Second Class
I support their struggle. I just wonder how realistic £8.80 is given the group of cinemas as a whole. It maybe that the parent company Cineworld is irrelevant to the negotiations ?
They provide a premium service. If they can't afford to pay staff properly then they should put prices up, reduce their margin or get out of business.

If their supplier of films put their price up would they bury their heads in the sand to that as well or else put the prices up or reduce their margin?

It is nothing less than bully boy tactics, squeezing those least able to object.
 

Lo Siento.

Second As Farce
I support their struggle. I just wonder how realistic £8.80 is given the group of cinemas as a whole. It maybe that the parent company Cineworld is irrelevant to the negotiations ?
The company doesn't have a national collective bargaining agreement, it's well within their powers to make an exception for this group of workers alone, if they want to. What's being cited in any case is the London Living Wage, which is calculated by a very unradical organisation and is a pretty objective calculation for what basic subsistence costs in the capital - it's about as realistic as you could get as a demand.

http://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-living-wage (note sponsorship by such out there left-wing groups as KPMG & AVIVA)
 

Lo Siento.

Second As Farce
They provide a premium service. If they can't afford to pay staff properly then they should put prices up, reduce their margin or get out of business.

If their supplier of films put their price up would they bury their heads in the sand to that as well or else put the prices up or reduce their margin?

It is nothing less than bully boy tactics, squeezing those least able to object.
Somewhere like the Ritzy labour costs as a proportion of their total costs will be utterly marginal. They could double their wages and it wouldn't make a dent.
 

leanderman

Street Party: July 2
Somewhere like the Ritzy labour costs as a proportion of their total costs will be utterly marginal. They could double their wages and it wouldn't make a dent.
Is this true? I don't run a business or anything but it sounds unlikely.

Either way, minimum wage is too low.
 

Lo Siento.

Second As Farce
Is this true? I don't run a business or anything but it sounds unlikely.

Either way, minimum wage is too low.
Yeah, what costs you money as a cinema is the films and owning/maintaining the space. The actual labour involved is minimal - as a customer you lay out £10.50 per showing and require no more than 1 minute of attention from staff.
 

plurker

tú no tienes la culpa mi amor que el mundo sea feo
They provide a premium service. If they can't afford to pay staff properly then they should put prices up, reduce their margin or get out of business.
Last time I went to Ritzy it was c.£12 a ticket.
 

Ol Nick

beer in Brixton
They provide a premium service. If they can't afford to pay staff properly then they should put prices up, reduce their margin or get out of business.
I'd be quite surprised if they were still in business in five years time. There are more profitable uses for the building in Nu Brixton and they will only have to pay minimum wage or less to run a bar or club there.

No-one enforces the minimum wage unless the workers themselves demand it and in low-paid work mostly performed by immigrants they don't dare. It's globalisation. In return we get cheap smartphones.
 

Smick

Strictly Second Class
Last time I went to Ritzy it was c.£12 a ticket.
Yeah, it isn't cheap. As I have said before, each time I go with the wife I usually hand over £30 by the time some popcorn or Revels are bought.

But I'll bet that as the price of Revels, wine, ticket paper, film rights and toilet roll goes up, they up the price of tickets or side items or take a hit in the short term and factor it in to the next increase. So why not include fair staff costs in their overall business model?

I'd be happier spending £31 and knowing the person working there is being treated fairly.
 

gabi

Banned
Banned
Yeah, what costs you money as a cinema is the films and owning/maintaining the space. The actual labour involved is minimal - as a customer you lay out £10.50 per showing and require no more than 1 minute of attention from staff.
you don't even need that anymore if you've got a smartphone. the only reason to use the staff there is to buy drinks, which of course can also be purchased from the house of bottles for a fraction of the price and taken in inside your man-bag so you dont even really need that.

i do feel for them though. there seems to be huge turnover there.
 
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