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Last Updated: Friday, 11 April, 2003, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
ENO backstage staff plan strike
The ENO was bailed out with a 4.2m grant
Backstage staff at the English National Opera have voted for strike action over management plans to cut jobs.

Workers including technicians, wardrobe, lighting and box office staff are among those who opted to strike over the redundancies.

But there is still hope a walk-out can be averted as both sides have agreed to enter into talks.

The ENO is undergoing a radical shake-up as it attempts to sort out its finances after several emergency grants kept it afloat.

Among the changes are staff cuts which have upset both backstage staff and performers, who have already held industrial action to save a number of choristers' jobs.

Now the backstage staff have taken a ballot to strike over the proposals to cut one in six positions.

Gerry Morrissey, assistant general secretary of the Bectu union, said: "Although the staff accept changes have to be made we are upset compulsory redundancies look likely.

"We would prefer the positions to be lost through voluntary redundancies but it appears there will not be enough volunteers."

Job security

He said the staff were also concerned that full-time jobs may be eliminated only for the positions to be filled on a contract basis, which would not offer job security.

Bectu and the ENO have agreed to enter into arbitration talks with Acas at the end of April in an attempt to avert strike action which could hit productions at London's Coliseum.

A spokesman for the ENO said: "While they balloted for strike action both sides have been given the hope that sufficient voluntary redundancies will be found."

In February 60 choristers staged a walk-out in protest at plans to axe 20 of them.

An agreement was reached after the first strike to cut the number by 10, which would be achieved through voluntary redundancy.

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