Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 12:04 UK

Pension change for Royal Opera

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
New staff at the opera house will be offered a cheaper pension scheme

Staff at the Royal Opera House in London have voted to accept the closure of their pension scheme to new joiners and to pay higher contributions.

Members of the trade union Bectu voted by 89% in favour of the deal.

Last November the ROH management warned that the scheme might have to close altogether because of a deficit of 8m.

Members are now paying 8% contributions instead of 6%, while future promotions will no longer count towards their final salary pension.

A national officer for Bectu, Willy Donaghy, said this would not necessarily disadvantage many of his members.

"Most people in Bectu grades are at the top of their salary scales," he said.

The trade union represents employees such as box office, front-of-house, technical and production staff.

New joiners

A spokesman for the ROH said it was very pleased the pension problem had been resolved.

"We are delighted we have an outcome which all parties involved have been able to endorse," he said.

The ROH had warned that if it did not take steps to curtail the cost of its pension scheme, then its own contribution rate might have to rise from 15% of salaries to 26%, which it said it could not afford.

Management at the ROH now expect that the deficit will be eradicated during the coming years as staff will be paying in more, increases to their pensionable salaries will be capped at 3% a year, and increases to pensions in payment will also be capped.

With the closure of the existing scheme to new joiners, new recruits will be offered a money-purchase version instead, in which the eventual pension will be directly related to its long term investment returns rather than their final salary at retirement.

New staff will pay in either 3% or 5% of their salaries, with the ROH paying in double the staff contributions.

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