Tessa Jowell ‘dismayed’ at Picturehouse’s treatment of reprieved Brixton Ritzy staff

Dame Tessa Jowell MP backed Brixton Ritzy Cinema staff who yesterday won a victory over Picturehouse Cinemas’ proposal to cut up to 34 jobs.

The decision follows a backlash against the proposed redundancies, with Dulwich and West Norwood MP Ms Jowell and author Will Self leading a chorus of disapproving voices.

A Picturehouse statement said no workers will lose their jobs for now, although Ritzy staff’s trade union Bectu says a ballot for strike action will still go ahead.

Ms Jowell told SW Londoner: “”I welcome the decision of CineWorld to overturn the immediate threat of redundancies made to Ritzy staff by PictureHouse management, but I remain dismayed at how they have been treated.

“CineWorld management should listen to their loyal customers, many of whom were shocked by the way they handled this dispute.

“I very much hope that they will now honour the commitments made to staff, and will be watching closely to ensure this happens.”

Speaking to the Evening Standard yesterday, Mooky Greidinger, the chief executive of Cineworld, the company who own Picturehouse, said: “Group management was not aware of plans to enter consultations for redundancies at The Ritzy, which is managed by Picturehouse.

“I am now making this a group matter and I have decided together with Picturehouse management to put an end to the consultation process.”

Picturehouse passed on the opportunity to comment, but released a statement that said: “Picturehouse is pleased to announce that the Ritzy Brixton consultation process has now ceased.

“It has been confirmed that there will be no redundancies at this time.”

Bectu official Willy Donaghy told SW Londoner: “Obviously we are delighted that, with the support and campaigning activities of tens of thousands of supporters on social media, the company have had a change of heart and withdrawn their attack on BECTU members who wanted not to live in poverty.

“However, we will not stop our plans to ballot for strike action until we have received the assurances on job security that we have requested.

“We have asked for a legally binding agreement that enshrines the principles agreed at ACAS.

“I think the company did a u-turn because they were embarrassed at the public outcry and thought it would hurt them where it would cause most pain. In their pockets!”

A statement from the Living Wage for Ritzy Staff campaign group said: “We welcome the news that Picturehouse and Cineworld have together decided to retract the threat of redundancies, however we are not celebrating yet.”

A series of strikes by Ritzy staff campaigning to earn the London Living Wage of £8.80 an hour ended in September when an ACAS-brokered agreement was accepted by union members.

The unionised staff agreed to a pay rise to £8.20 followed by another to £8.40 in January 2015 and a further rise to £8.80 in September 2015.

Their high-profile campaign won the support of film director Ken Loach and ex-footballer Eric Cantona.

Curzon Cinemas announced this week that its staff members will now be paid the London Living Wage.

Picture courtesy of placards mr, with thanks

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