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 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 Rio does not comment to Loving Dalston. The cinema has a policy of non-co-operation with this site and, for all it knows, other news outfits that report things it would rather keep hidden.
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.
Helen Ryan, Prospect’s Bectu sector assistant national secretary, told Loving Dalston that Bectu staff reps at the Rio had recently agreed a 5% pay rise, extra shift pay and more fixed-hours contracts,
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, which also cannily projects a community-cinema image.
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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