Green Party calls on West Norwood cinema workers to be paid London Living Wage

10 November 2018

Lambeth’s Green Party councillors have called on Lambeth Council to
require Picturehouse Cinemas to pay its staff the London Living Wage
(LLW) at its new branch, which opened in West Norwood on Friday.

Picturehouse, which has been in a long-running dispute with campaigners
at the nearby Ritzy in Brixton, will not pay staff the LLW. The company
has claimed that workers' conditions make up the difference when breaks
and other benefits are factored in.

Lambeth Council contributed over £3 million towards the more than £6
million total cost of the capital project. The cinema will share its
premises with the council-run West Norwood library. [1]

Lambeth Council is an accredited living wage employer and states on its
website that it is “proud to be a London Living Wage employer with all
staff and 99 per cent of its contracts all paying the rate at a
minimum.” [2]

The Green Party says that responses to Freedom of Information requests,
submitted earlier this year, indicate that there is limited evidence
Lambeth ever sought to use the leverage at its disposal to force
Picturehouse to pay its staff the living wage. [3]

The official Living Wage in London, set by the Living Wage Foundation,
was increased on Monday to £10.55 an hour, with the rate outside London
rising to £9 an hour.[4]

Green Party Councillor Becca Thackray (Herne Hill), who in 2009
introduced the Motion which led to Lambeth adopting the London Living
Wage [5], said:

“The London Living Wage is the absolute minimum an individual needs to
earn to survive in one of the richest and most expensive cities in the
world. It is not, by anyone’s definition, a generous wage.

“Perks like free cinema tickets and luncheon vouchers do not help pay
the rent. Picturehouse employees need the London Living Wage. There is
no justification for such a successful international corporation
avoiding this. If the company will not agree to doing so voluntarily,
Lambeth Council must step in and force them to.”

Councillor Pete Elliott (Green Party, Gipsy Hill) added:

“The fact that this cinema, which does not pay the living wage, opened
in Living Wage Week is at best grimly ironic, at worst a slap in the
face to campaigners.

“Lambeth council negotiated another bad deal, bending over backwards to
hand an enormous public subsidy to a highly profitable private company.
As ever it is those at the bottom of the ladder, the low-paid workers
and the taxpayers, who end up paying pay the true price.”


[5] Motion : Council as a Living Wage employer (05.01.09) Councillor
Rebecca Thackray : Council takes on the responsibility of becoming a
Living Wage employer to help alleviate the working poverty trap; in the
capital, a situation affecting around 400,000 Londoners who are paid
less than can reasonably fund the basic costs of living in London.
Council seeks a review Lambeth Council’s procurement, contract and
best-value policies to ensure that the London Living Wage of £7.45 per
hour, as set by the GLA’s Living Wage Unit, is
the minimum paid by Lambeth Council and by its contractors; and aims to
promote the London Living Wage and London Citizens; Living Wage Employer
Award to the private sector in Lambeth.

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