RSC Technical Staff to Strike
Friday, 7 September 2001
Members of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s technical teams in Stratford-upon-Avon will go on strike on 15 September in protest over planned redundancies. Almost 90% of 200 members of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) have agreed to the action. BECTU had previously attempted to negotiate on behalf of its members, but without success. BECTU assistant general secretary Gerry Morrissey said performances would be affected from 15 September because of the walkout by lighting staff, stage crews, wardrobe employees and technical workers.

A production of Julius Caesar is listed for that night in the midst of a season which includes performances of Twelfth Night and Hamlet. BECTU has also said that industrial action will continue after 15 September. The union says about two-thirds of technical staff at the company could lose their jobs if plans to abandon the fixed Shakespeare season at Stratford-upon-Avon go ahead. Chris Foy, managing director of the RSC, is reported by the BBC as saying: "Industrial action by BECTU members in Stratford is extremely regrettable. "Our priority is not to disappoint audiences and to continue performing in Stratford. If shows are affected, we will tell ticketholders as soon as possible." Foy said voluntary redundancy had meant it had been able to reduce the number of people affected by cuts by more than half. "We want the RSC to remain fresh and relevant to a new generation of theatre-goers," he said. The RSC plans to concentrate on its Stratford base and on touring and intends to end its presence at the Barbican arts complex, where BECTU members will be balloted for industrial action later this month. The RSC says up to 60 jobs will be lost at Stratford as a result of the changes.

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