Tameside theatre: who pays?

Staff at the Tameside Hippodrome are caught in the crossfire in an argument over redundancy payments.

Live Nation, the theatre operator, and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, the theatre owner, are both claiming that the other party is responsible for making redundancy payments when the theatre closes at the end of business today. All staff will lose their employment for reasons of redundancy.

The closure marks the end of Live Nation’s contract to run the venue; the premises will revert to the Council’s control. The Council has yet to confirm whether refurbishment will lead to a relaunch of the venue.

Live Nation argues that the responsibility for staff reverts to the Council when their contract with the Council ends; the Council has insisted that this is not the case as the venue will cease to operate.

If the matter remains unresolved today, as looks highly likely, BECTU is advising staff to lodge employment tribunal applications citing both Live Nation and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council as respondents.

“For some months now Live Nation and the Council have been more focussed on declaring themselves not responsible for the treatment of staff, in the event that the venue closed, than they have been focussed on making sure that staff entitlements are honoured.” explained BECTU supervisory official Willy Donaghy.

“Legal responsibility is a clear issue here, but so is the parties’ moral responsibility to staff who have served the theatre well. If staff have to go to law to secure their redundancy entitlements then both parties will have lost some moral authority in this case.” Willy Donaghy continued.

Willy Donaghy also clarified that “BECTU has not made any agreement or statement to suggest that staff, and their treatment following tonight’s closure, will not become the responsibility of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council”. This last statement is necessary to counter an incorrect statement allegedly made by Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.

Monday 31 March 2008