UK

Welsh National Opera musicians to vote on industrial action in dispute over pay

The Musicians’ Union said funding cuts mean pay may be slashed by 15% and the orchestra will become part-time.

Musicians’ Union members staged a protest prior to a performance at the Wales Millennium Centre on Thursday
Musicians’ Union members staged a protest prior to a performance at the Wales Millennium Centre on Thursday (Alistair Heap Media Assignments/PA)

Members of the Welsh National Opera are being balloted for industrial action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Those in the Musicians’ Union will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of action, saying there are plans to make the orchestra part-time and cut musicians’ pay by 15%.

The union said funding cuts by the Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council England have forced Welsh National Opera management to consider the changes.

Touring will also have to be reduced as a result of the funding shortfall for the company, which risks leaving towns and cities like Llandudno and Bristol without the high-quality opera provision they deserve, said the union.

Union general secretary Naomi Pohl said: “This is a critical time for Welsh National Opera as it faces funding cuts from Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Wales.

“We are also deeply concerned about diminishing opera provision across the UK. This will hit hardest in areas that already have less arts and music provision, and hugely reduce opportunities for musicians to earn a living.

“We are determined to support our members in challenging plans for unsustainable pay cuts for our members and changes that could cause major damage to arts and music in Wales.

“Meanwhile we will be taking the issue up with the Government, supportive MPs and the arts councils.

“With a General Election on the horizon, it is a pivotal moment in time to make our case for the cultural investment so desperately needed for our arts institutions.”