Top West End shows at risk of strike disruption

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West End shows such as The Lion King and Wicked could be disrupted by strike action, after talks between union BECTU and Ambassador Theatre Group over working conditions for theatre staff broke down.

The two organisations met earlier this week in an attempt to resolve a number of disputes BECTU has registered with ATG, including one that revolves around the theatre company’s plans to move staff from weekly to monthly pay.

BECTU had also raised a complaint about changes to the employment terms for front of house staff.

The two sides met for talks on Monday at ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

However, the talks broke down, and BECTU has now said it intends to ballot its members over strike action.

“Plans for industrial action will not be decided until the strike ballot has got underway, but the union has already warned theatregoers that they should check in advance whether the shows they have booked might be hit,” BECTU said in a statement.

ATG operates 41 theatres across the UK, with 12 in the West End, including the Lyceum Theatre, the Victoria Apollo and the Piccadilly Theatre.

News of the ballot comes after it was revealed by The Stage that staff at the ATG-owned New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham are facing redundancy because of restructuring taking place at the venue.

This prompted BECTU to register a dispute – its third in recent months – with ATG.

Meanwhile, BECTU has said it is also planning to ballot members for strike action at the BBC, over "increased workload, stress, and job losses".

Formal notice of the ballot, required under employment laws, was given to the BBC on February 26, and voting papers will be mailed to members on March 6.