Montreal Symphony Talks Break Down With Season Approaching

Classic Arts News   Montreal Symphony Talks Break Down With Season Approaching
Negotiations between the Montreal Symphony's management and its striking musicians have come to a halt. In a statement released late last week, management said that the two sides are at an impasse, and that the strike could delay the start of the 2005-06 season.

If the musicians' latest offer was accepted, chairman Lucien Bouchard said, "it would plunge the [orchestra] into a serious financial crisis and could even threaten its existence."

Madeleine Careau, the orchestra general manager, said, "In addition to hindering the renewal of the contract, the union's intransigence and disregard for the issues facing the [orchestra] may unfortunately force us to cancel the first concerts of the new season, which begins September 20."

The two sides remain deadlocked over work rules affecting touring and recording. Management said that musicians had made concessions regarding these "non-monetary" issues in June and then withdrawn them in their latest offer. But in their own statement, musicians said that the concessions had been in the context of a "global proposal" which had been rejected by management.

Management has offered a salary increase of eight percent over the next five years, with unspecified retroactive payments for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, when the musicians played without a contract. The musicians' statement did not characterize their salary offer; management claims that it would amount to an increase of 48 percent in "basic fees" and of more than 85 percent overall.

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