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ENO works with BECTU to bridge backstage gender pay gap

1 March 2019

A total of 15 production staff in costume, wigs and make-up have had their pay brought inline with technical staff following a gender pay review.

BECTU has secured gender pay parity for costume, wardrobe and wigs members working at the English National Opera after agreeing a series of steps with new technical director Matt Noddings to address reported disparities.

Staff had previously individually flagged concerns over gender pay inequality between stage technicians with the ENO without a breakthrough, however, following Noddings’s appointment , BECTU established positive talks and a review was put in place.

The review, which started in October 2017, looked at pay rates and disparity across the Technical and Production departments. The ENO agreed to a job evaluation process and a panel was set up, which included a seat for a BECTU representative, and received training in the job evaluation.

All salaries in Costume, Wardrobe and Wigs have been brought in line with those in the other Technical departments. Through negotiation, both sides agreed to a mutually acceptable backdating for those staff who received a salary correction.

As part of the review, working conditions were also assessed and brought in line with the new working terms and conditions for Stage and Prop Technicians which includes a maximum 13-hour working day and limits on numbers of weekends worked in any given period. The new agreement gives all staff greater say over their hours and the power to say no to working additional hours unpaid.

Helen Ryan, Arts & Entertainment Assistant National Secretary at BECTU union, said: “We are pleased that the English National Opera has shown great leadership on getting to the heart of this issue and listened to BECTU members and tackled the issue of their gender pay disparity, which has now been resolved.”

“We welcome this constructive review, instigated by Matt Noddings, who has built a positive relationship with BECTU and has addressed not just pay but working conditions.”

“We look forward to continuing this relationship to ensure the continued success and dedication of the ENOworkforce, who have helped establish the world class reputation of this formidable arts institution.”

Karen Hopkinson, Branch Chair of the ENO Managers BECTU Branch, said “This is incredible that we have broken through the first barrier of Gender Pay Equality within theatre, but this is only the first hurdle and only the first company to right an historic wrong. It is no longer acceptable for our work to be deemed as domestic and undervalued and we must speak up against these prejudices if change is to happen. I would encourage all of my colleagues within costume, wardrobe, wigs and make-up to feel empowered by this outcome and take up the fight within their own area of the industry. Together we cannot be ignored.”

ENO's technical director Matt Noddings said: “I have come across this situation in two other theatres. It is vital that the industry addresses this historical disparity. I would like to thank everyone for their patience as we went through the necessary conversations.”


For more information, please contact Katy Davies on or call 020 7346 0906.