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Ken Loach sends solidarity as workers strike at iconic Ritzy Cinema

Bectu members walked out after bosses repeatedly denied them the London living wage

Underpaid workers at a south London cinema closed doors and went on strike yesterday demanding the London living wage.

Ticket queues were replaced with picket lines at Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema after staff lost patience with bosses over seven months of fruitless wage talks.

“The Ritzy is the most successful arthouse cinema in the UK,” said entertainment union Bectu branch secretary Nia Hughes.

“It’s profits increased by 140 per cent in 2012 alone.”

During talks with management — hosted by the conciliation service Acas — union members working for the arthouse cinema were offered an increase of 21.5 per cent.

However, Ritzy staff were forced to reject the offer as it didn’t come close to the £8.80 an hour stipulated by the Greater London Authority as the wage needed to guarantee a worker’s livelihood in the capital.

Over 85 per cent of those balloted supported industrial action.

“Our members cannot afford to go on living on such a low pay,” Ms Hughes added.

Filmaker Ken Loach expressed his solidarity with workers at the Ritzy, stating that “everyone has the right to a living wage.”

“It is sad and shocking that the Ritzy Cinema, which has an image of being radical and progressive, should fail to do this,” added the director of The Wind that Shakes the Barley and Kes.

Picturehouse argues that any further pay increase would mean job losses in the company.

Popular screenwriter Irvine Welsh — of Trainspotting and Filth fame — said: “Times may be hard for cinema operators, but they’re a damn sight harder for cinema staff.”

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