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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Talks may avert opera strike
Jane Eaglen in Turandot
Bectu petitioned the audience at Turandot last month
Management at the Royal Opera House have agreed to further conciliation talks with staff aimed at averting threatened strike action.

Workers voted last week for industrial action following alleged victimisation of a union official.

Previous talks at the arbitration service Acas had broken down, but they will now resume on 25 April.

Tony Hall
Could new director Tony Hall intervene?
"We hope that these talks will be successful but this will depend on the management's attitude," said Gerry Morrissey, assistant general secretary of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (Bectu).

The ROH is keen to avoid a dispute and prevent any disruption of performances.

As many backstage staff, from scene changers to maintenance staff are members of Bectu, strike action could disrupt performances.

But the ROH has said that out of the 219 full-time staff at the house who are Bectu members, only 117 actually voted for the strike.

Of those 117, more than 80% voted for industrial action.


The action has arisen because Bectu claims that the ROH has unfairly taken disciplinary action against its representative Pat Styles.

Styles is presently suspended from duty pending a disciplinary hearing following allegations of misconduct in relation to his colleagues.

The Royal Opera House
The ROH is also home to the Royal Ballet
When both sides met through Acas there was an agreement that procedures of conduct for union representatives and management should be reviewed.

In the meantime Bectu wanted the disciplinary hearing to be abandoned.

But the ROH felt that this would be "inappropriate", as it would be unfair on the members of staff who complained about Styles.

Strike date

Bectu is anxious that the Royal Opera House's new director Tony Hall gets involved in the dispute.

"We hope that the new director Tony Hall will bring home to the management a sober recognition that, as a publicly funded body, the Opera House cannot afford to wage war on its workers trade union," said Morrissey.

Formerly the BBC's head of news, Mr Hall took up his new post on 2 April and as yet has not commented on the dispute.

If no resolution is reached Bectu says strike action will commence before 4 May, as it must take place within four weeks of the ballot.

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