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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
RSC staff to strike over job cuts
The RSC hopes productions at Stratford upon Avon will not be affected
Technical staff at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon are to strike on 15 September over planned redundancies.

Almost 90% of 200 members of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre (Bectu) union had agreed to industrial action in a postal ballot.

Bectu said despite attempts to negotiate, their opposition to redundancies had "fallen on deaf ears".

Assistant general secretary Gerry Morrissey said performances would be hit 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 seson which includes performances of Twelfth Night and Hamlet.

"The RSC is hell bent on making these redundancies so we have no option than to take action," he said.

Industrial action will continue after 15 September, Bectu said.

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.

'Extremely regrettable'

Chris Foy, managing director of the RSC, said: "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."

Mr Foy said voluntary redundancy had meant it had been able to reduce the number of people affected by cuts by more than half.

"Yesterday (Tuesday) we put a new deal on the table which increases the redundancy deal for staff with long service and gives a real boost to those on low incomes," he added.

He said the changes were "vital to the future health of the company".

"We want the RSC to remain fresh and relevant to a new generation of theatregoers," he said.

The RSC wants to concentrate on its Stratford base and on touring and intends to pull out of its London centre at the Barbican arts complex.

Bectu members at the Barbican are set to be balloted for industrial action later this month.

The RSC said up to 60 jobs would be lost in Stratford as a result of the changes.

Gerry Morrissey, Ass. general secretary of BECTU
"Talks have broken down"
See also:

13 Jul 01 | Arts
Strike ballot at RSC
28 Mar 01 | Arts
RSC: Shakespeare and beyond
28 Mar 01 | Arts
RSC eyes new home
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