STRIKING Ritzy workers, locked in a battle for the London Living Wage, staged a mass protest yesterday after the cinema opened during strike action.
Staff and hundreds of supporters lined up outside the picture house in Windrush Square, armed with flags and a giant banner, after The Ritzy streamed Monty Python Live from the O2 arena on the same day as the strike.
Monty Python star Terry Jones showed his support on Twitter for the workers on Saturday, urging ticket holders not to cross the picket line and instead ask for a refund.
The protest is the latest development in the ongoing battle between staff and Picturehouse Cinemas, part of Cineworld.
Campaigners have held eleven strikes to date in a bid to persuade Picturehouse bosses to pay the London Living Wage of £8.80 per hour – but this is the first time that the cinema has attempted to break the strike.
Rob Lugg, a BECTU Union representative, said: “There was an incredible response from the community with hundreds showing up to show their support.
“There were a lot of customers who didn’t go to the screening because of the protest.”
Mr Lugg said steel barricades were put up around the cinema after news of the protest broke.
“The barricades were erected at god knows what expense. How much money will be wasted in order to not pay the London Living Wage?”
A statement from Picturehouse Cinemas said: “We apologise to our customers at The Ritzy for the disruption caused by protesters yesterday.
“Whilst our own staff were holding a lawful picket, a large number of other people called on to support their action behaved aggressively and unlawfully, including physically blocking entrances to the cinema and manhandling customers.
“We respect everyone’s right to have an opinion and to have their say, but we are saddened that those 700 customers who chose to visit the cinema on Sunday were not able to do so without being intimidated.
“We recognise that our staff’s dispute is part of a larger political campaign for higher wages but we believe that this argument can be made verbally and peacefully, and not by acting aggressively towards those customers who choose to visit The Ritzy.”
Tell us what you think. Should the Ritzy have respected the strike?