Ritzy cinema workers, members of the Bectu union, struck for the eleventh time last Sunday.
The action, part of the workers’ fight for the London Living Wage, hit the south London cinema hard.
This was the first time that management tried to open the cinema on a strike day.
Bosses held a special live stream screening of Monty Python from the O2—but workers and locals held pickets. Ritzy striker Rob told Socialist Worker, “Pickets gathered around customers going into the cinema, tried to argue with them and turn them away.
“Picketing is incredibly important.”
There was a good turnout from strikers and local supporters, despite torrential rain. They were able to turn away a number of customers.
Freddy and Abe, both 14, had already bought tickets for the show, but they refused to cross the picket line.
“This is going to be us in ten years, so you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t support it,” explained Freddy.
He added that management had refused to give them a refund—but he still wouldn’t cross the picket line.
“I don’t think it’s fair that people are struggling”, he said.
Strikers were lifted by Monty python star Terry Jones, who took to Twitter to urge fans not to attend the screening.
Management were clearly shaken by strikers’ resolve. They erected a barrier outside the cinema and handed out their own leaflets. These described the “perks” that Ritzy workers receive—including “free tea and coffee” and “sick pay”.
Some supporters of the strike went into the cinema to leaflet people inside. Security bundled one elderly man out of the cinema for leafleting.
Nevertheless, the strikers were defiant. “We’re not going to give up,” said Rob.
March shows solid support for strikers
Ritzy workers’ picket line last Sunday followed a strike on Thursday of last week.
The walkout coincided with a march of over 100 workers and their supporters, called by the Bectu union.
Curzon cinema workers joined the march along with workers from the BFI and Odeon. Curzon workers won union recognition earlier this year and are also fighting for the London Living Wage.
Marchers chanted, “Cinema workers left and right—unionise and join our fight!”
Socialist film director Ken Loach addressed a rally at City Hall along with Bectu general secretary Gerry Morrissey. Meanwhile support has flooded in for the strikers.
Many Ritzy customers took to Facebook to declare their backing for the strikers’ campaign and to pledge to boycott the Ritzy until it pays the London Living Wage.