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Threat of West End Strike Lifted

BECTU, ATG theater owners reach resolution

LONDON — The threat of a strike by members of the U.K. union BECTU at West End and regional theaters owned by ATG (Ambassador Theater Group) — including the Lyceum (“The Lion King”) and the Apollo Victoria (“Wicked”) — has been lifted following the resolution of a pay dispute.

Negotiations between 25,000 member entertainment and media union BECTU and ATG — the largest owner/operator of theaters in the U.K — had broken down Feb. 25, prompting BECTU to issue a statement warning theatergoers to check in advance whether the shows they had booked might be affected.

But both sides returned to the table at the offices of U.K. arbitration body A.C.A.S. Feb. 28, with an agreement reached late that evening.

Contract issues under dispute were primarily pay scale and work hours for front-of-house staff, plus a change from weekly to monthly pay imposed by the government. Although the matter has been resolved, parties differ in their assessment of the process.

BECTU official Pat Styles, leading the talks, said: “We are pleased that ATG finally came to their senses and modified their unreasonable stance by agreeing to adhere to the agreement they freely entered into with us last year, and by no longer seeking to force our members to move from weekly to monthly pay against their will.”

An ATG spokesperson said, “We’re delighted with the outcome and strongly believe that the new agreement represents a good deal for our staff. We were surprised that the deal couldn’t be completed on Monday given what was finally agreed yesterday. We are particularly pleased that BECTU have recognized the new terms and conditions that have been offered to our front of house staff.”

The resolution of the dispute also included a pay settlement for 2013 that will shortly be put in a ballot before the relevant BECTU members.

“This dispute,” said Styles, “was not one of our making and we are glad that it has been resolved satisfactorily.”

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