SADIQ KHAN has been getting a reputation as the mayor who likes to say No. Uber, for example; the London garden bridge; the postmodern Routemaster buses: his City Hall regime has been at the least negative about them all.
How then does the Mayor justify giving £40,000 to a Hackney social enterprise? Not only has the Rio Cinema refused to pay the LLW but it has had a long-running dispute with staff over money.
City Hall told Loving Dalston the Mayor was pleased to support the “important cultural asset”. In an email it added: “The Mayor believes hard-working Londoners should be properly rewarded for helping our capital to thrive, which is why he is committed to promoting the London Living Wage and believes all employers, such as the Rio, should pay staff fairly.”
The official flatly refused to answer follow-up questions. It is perhaps significant that both the London Assembly and the Rio’s other financial supporter, Hackney council, are Labour-dominated. The Rio declined to comment.
London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, of the Liberal Democrats, commented: ”Sadiq Khan says he is committed to making London a living wage city… Supporting organisations with GLA grants which don’t pay their staff the London living wage cannot be defended.”
Had Khan made the Rio sweat on whether he would approve the £40k, he might have advanced the workers’ progress towards the living wage. Their union has certainly sweated some advances out of the cinema’s bosses.
She said: “We have also agreed with the employer that this agreement forms an important step towards achieving the London Living Wage for all staff as soon as possible.”
Slowly, the drive to make Rio a fair employer is succeeding. The success of its Riogeneration campaign might give it time to reflect on how to treat staff. Perhaps it will become a more responsible employer than the well-resourced, multinational-owned Hackney Picturehouse.
David Altheer 201017
* Backstory: Workers or board: choose, says E8 cinema; Union reports Rio to adjudicator; Rio manager counters that pay is higher than at other cinemas; Rio fails to keep out union; Mr Rio quits; Multimillion-pound Hackney giveaway; Rio begs fans for money
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