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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
RSC redundancy dispute resolved
Plays by the RSC at Stratford were under threat
Staff at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have voted to accept a settlement in a long-running dispute which had threatened to disrupt productions in Stratford-on-Avon.

Members of trade union Bectu voted narrowly to accept a package of new redundancy terms which, the union said, was a significant improvement on the RSC's first negotiating position.

Bectu members accepted this settlement with the narrowest of majorities

Willy Donaghy, Bectu
The deal means that there will be no redundancies at the RSC before March 2002.

The union has also said that the agreement ensures that staff made redundant will be offered casual work, which will be pensionable.

There will be no further compulsory redundancies for five years, and training will be offered to redundant technical staff.

'Compulsory redundancies'

But the union has accepted the loss of 10 jobs in staging as well as another seven elsewhere, to take place after March 2002.

In a statement, Bectu theatres officer Willy Donaghy said: "Bectu members at Stratford accepted this settlement with the narrowest of majorities because of the compulsory element in the redundancies."

Strike action, which threatened to halt Saturday's performances of Julius Caesar and Hamlet, was only narrowly averted last Thursday.

Officials from Bectu called off the strike after an eight-hour meeting with management.

The dispute has followed the RSC management's attempts to slim down the workforce at the company's Stratford base as well as at its London centre at the Barbican arts complex.

RSC's A Russian in the Woods
A scene from RSC's A Russian In The Woods
Managing Director Chris Foy has said that the changes are "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.

But Mr Donaghy warned that the parallel dispute between the RSC management and Bectu workers at the Barbican Centre was far from resolution.

"Outstanding differences remain between Bectu members and the employer at the RSC Barbican, and strike action is likely unless the employer is willing to make concessions," he said.

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

See also:

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