Staff working for the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham fear they are at risk of losing their jobs after Ambassador Theatre Group launched a consultation about a “restructure” at the venue.
ATG, which runs the 1,350-seat venue, has said six roles, including front of house and backstage positions, are affected by the plans, which it has claimed is part of its aim to ensure “the best possible structures” exist within its theatres.
“We continue to work with our internal colleagues and external partners on achieving this and confirm that BECTU [the backstage union] were informed of our intentions to consult with staff at New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham regarding restructure affecting six roles in a range of functions,” an ATG spokesman said.
He added that “six roles will remain” at the end of the process, but in a “slightly” different structure.
It is understood that both BECTU and staff at the theatre, some of whom have worked there for more than 30 years, fear the people currently working in the affected roles will be at risk of redundancy if they do not meet the specifications of the jobs following the restructure.
However, the ATG spokesman added: “This is a process that venue management, staff and unions are fully engaged in, and we will seek to ensure employment is protected for all staff.”
Despite this, BECTU has registered a dispute with ATG – its third with the company in recent months.
As reported by The Stage last week, BECTU has threatened strike action against ATG following its decision to move staff across the company, which is the UK’s largest theatre operator, from weekly to monthly pay.
ATG has blamed this decision on legal requirements to introduce automatic enrolment of staff into a pensions scheme, but BECTU said this had happened without notification and has threatened to ballot its members over the move.
Patrick Styles, acting supervisory official, met with ATG about this last week. In an update to members, Styles said the “meeting broke down without any resolution”.
He added: “It is absolutely clear from the things said by the company representatives that ATG has no intention whatsoever of negotiating with BECTU over the introduction of monthly pay.”
Styles said this made a “ballot for strike action more likely” and that members should be “prepared for this eventuality”.
In addition, BECTU is in dispute with See Tickets over conditions of work at the company’s London-based offices.