As previously reported, staff at one of our favourite London cinemas, the Ritzy in Brixton, held their second planned one-day strike today.
This dispute continues to leave a sour taste in the mouth. London’s ‘living minimum’ wage is £7.20 per hour, but the cinema chain that runs the Ritzy, City Screen, wants to pay some staff as little £5.41 – 6p above the national legal minimum. City Screen justifies this poverty pay on the basis that of each £8 ticket sold, only £2.56 goes to the cinema as profit.
This argument is dire. £2.56 is a respectable 32% profit margin. Even so, we know that ticket revenue isn’t the main generator of profit at cinemas – the real money-spinners are the food and drink sold before a film starts (that paper cup of fizz and pick ‘n’ mix bag both boast profit margins that would give any Woolworths manager palpitations) and lucrative on-screen advertising. In addition to all this, the Ritzy also happens to boast a rather lovely bar and cafe, where we have often quoffed and noshed without even going to see a film at all. Where does all that profit go? Not to combat poverty pay, that’s for sure.
Perhaps someone should make a film about this? We’d go but we wouldn’t buy the popcorn.
Image of Bell & Howell 16mm Projector Model 613H (1952) taken from innoxiuss’s Flickr stream