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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Union fury over opera job losses
Scottish Opera office
Bectu has blamed Scottish Opera management for the crisis
Unions representing staff at Scottish Opera have urged company directors to resign following news that almost half the workforce will lose their jobs.

Bectu said it had no confidence in the board and management which made the decision to restructure.

The union represents many of the 88 staff who have been told they will lose their posts at the company.

Although the company hopes its plans - to be implemented by 2005 - will work, unions say it was slow to react.

The Scottish Executive said it would continue to invest in Scottish Opera subject to the management ensuring that strong financial planning controls were in place.

Consultation on the proposed plan will begin immediately, with technical and administration departments expected to be worst affected, along with the chorus.

Cutting costs

The process of restructuring is planned to be completed by June 2005, to be followed by nine months with no full-scale productions.

The company had been receiving 7.5m a year, but argued that it was too small a sum of money for a company of its size.

The company is in ongoing negotiations to lease the Theatre Royal to another party.

Scottish Opera chairman Duncan McGhie said difficult decisions had to be made.

Rather than a rescue plan, this could be the death of opera of an international standard in Scotland
Ian McGarry
But Bectu said management was to blame for not cutting costs sooner.

It argued the package did not make any business sense and was simply killing the company.

Bectu is calling on the current board to resign and for the executive to appoint an interim management until the matter is properly investigated.

Performers' union Equity said it was appalled by the restructuring plans.

The organisation said it fears that the entire 34-strong chorus will be made redundant in the coming few months.

General Secretary Ian McGarry said: "Rather than a rescue plan, this could be the death of opera of an international standard in Scotland."

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