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West End theatre workers seek 9% pay rise

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is just one of many sellout shows in today's West End.

22 August 2017

Theatre workers in London's commercial West End are seeking a 9% pay rise in the pay review due in October.

The ambitious pay claim is justified, says BECTU, by "the steady increase in the cost of living with RPI currently standing at 3.7%, with an anticipation that it will continue to rise throughout the year."

The pay claim for 2017/18, submitted in June, comes as the previous three-year deal draws to a close. 

The union also cites high transport and housing costs in the capital as real cost pressures for the workforce which the employers need to consider. 

In addition to the increase on basic pay, BECTU is also seeking improvements to several terms in the collective agreement with the Society of London Theatre.

The union wants all employers covered by the agreement to commit to paying the London Living Wage as the minimum rate. In addition the union is seeking to regrade the stagedoor keeper in line with the Stage and Electrics department.

Concern about hours is reflected in the request for staff working long days to be paid continuously until an 11 hour break is given. The claim also includes a request for the rules on the 3.75 minimum call for front of house staff to be upheld across the circuit.

Business is good

In March this year, the Society of London Theatre reported another successful year for the sector. Amongst the highlights in the report were:

  • Gross revenue of £644,719,639, up 1.7% compared to 2015
  • Sales generated VAT receipts for the Treasury of £107,453,273
  • Attendances of 14,328,121 (down 2.8% year on year but the number of performances was down 5.95% on 2015)
  • 76.7% of available seats filled, up 4.1% compared to 2015 and a new record.

Hard fought pay negotiations in 2014, which were concluded with the help of ACAS, secured a three year pay deal providing a 4.5% increase in year one, followed by a 4% increase in years two and three.

Theatre staff in the West End work as full time members of staff linked to a particular theatre, with this core staffing being supplemented by show and front of house staff engaged, typically, for the run of a particular production. 

Front of house working group

BECTU officials are also keen to address front of house concerns about their pay and grading and are inviting a front of house member from each of the 40 plus theatres to join a working group to get this task underway. Interested members should write to negotiations officer, Sofie Mason

"Together we made strides in 2014 to improve the pay of West End theatre workers and now we're committed to serious talks with the employers to improve terms and conditions further," commented Helen Ryan, assistant national secretary. 

The pay review date is 1 October 2017; talks are scheduled to get underway on 31 August.  

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Story updated on 22 August 2017 from earlier posting on 5 July 2017.