English National Opera Avoids Workers' Strike

Classic Arts News   English National Opera Avoids Workers' Strike
A planned strike by English National Opera staff has been suspended, according to the company.

Staff members voted overwhelmingly last month to take strike action after the company failed to meet its salary demands. The action has now been put on hold while a new offer put forward by ENO management is considered by the workers, who include technical, managerial, administration, and support staff. They are represented by the union BECTU.

The proposed three-year pay deal offered by management includes pay raises in excess of inflation, and an increased employer contribution to staff pension plans.

BECTU official Willy Donaghy said in a statement, "This new offer is a testament to the unity of our members at ENO. The offer includes pay increases in real terms for each of the next three years and consequently BECTU recommends that the offer is accepted."

Union members will vote on the offer between now and February 6.

An ENO spokesman told PlaybillArts, "We hope that this can be resolved for the best interest of the staff and public."

The company has faced numerous administrative and financial problems recently. Following the resignation of CEO and artistic director Sešn Doran in November, chairman Martin Smith controversially appointed two ENO insiders to top posts: Loretta Tomasi as chief executive and John Berry as artistic director. The ensuing outcry led to Smith's resignation last month.

The spokesperson declined to comment on potential successors to Smith, except to say that a committee is being convened to begin the search process.

The ENO, which was founded 75 years ago with the aim of attracting a broad audience, has been bailed out twice by the government since 1998. Despite some box-office successes, such as Anthony Minghella's staging of Puccini's Madame Butterfly, the company's finances are still precarious.

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