8 November 2018
Negotiations for staff at the Theatre Royal Plymouth to be paid the Real Living Wage continue to take place against the backdrop of #talkBECTU union week.
The theatre has been in discussions about achieving the Real Living Wage bench mark since 2017. After negotiating for all staff stalled last year, the discussions are now taking place on a department by department basis. BECTU reps and the company came to this approach as some staff would be disproportionately affected by some of the proposals, including the removal of overtime.
So far discussions have led to bespoke agreements being put in place for the box office, workshops and housekeeping departments, all of which have now moved to the Real Living Wage with back dating to February.
BECTU branch chair Steve Fogg said: “There have been concerns about the living wage being brought into the building. Some departments require overtime to incentivise working anti-social hours and this is still required, so to change that now would be regressive. So we agreed that negotiations would need to be done department by department.”
While the negotiations have been taking place, more and more staff have continued to engage with the process and with BECTU. “We’ve never had such a bedrock of reps in this building – it is really strong,” added Fogg. “It is the first time any of the reps in this building have negotiated something of this kind. It gives us an opportunity to create a bespoke house agreement, and it is really important that we get this right.”
The technical, stage door and front of house departments are still negotiating an agreement to be put to members, and discussions continue to be constructive.
BECTU Negotiations Officer Kevin Carson said: “When agreement is reached and approved by BECTU members in each department, this will be a unique house agreement that improves on the current UK Theatre agreement.
“This is a fantastic example of finding a way to negotiate and maintain good relationships with an employer when working patterns are so varied.”