West End strike action averted after BECTU and ATG resolve dispute

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A dispute between union BECTU and Ambassador Theatre Group that saw theatres around the UK threatened with strike action has been resolved.

The two parties met yesterday and were able to settle a dispute that had seen the trade union threaten to ballot members over strike action affecting 41 theatres around the UK. This included 12 in the West End.

BECTU had registered disputes over ATG’s plans to move staff from weekly to monthly pay, and over a contract for front of house workers that both sides agreed to last year. The union claims ATG had failed to adhere to this when it introduced an additional contract for new staff, alongside the one that had already been agreed.

Talks began on Monday at ACAS – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration service– but broke down when the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.

Following this, BECTU announced its plans to ballot members over strike action.

However, the two sides returned to talks yesterday and have now been able to reach an agreement on all points that had been in dispute.

ATG said in a statement: “ATG successfully completed ACAS negotiations with BECTU yesterday, resulting in a resolution on all disputed issues including the move to monthly pay.

“By the end of discussions on Monday, most areas of dispute had been resolved and whilst no resolution could be achieved, both sides resumed talks on Thursday and resolved the final area of outstanding dispute.”

ATG added that it had been “instrumental in the re-establishment” of talks and said it was “baffled” when BECTU appeared to walk away from “positive negotiations” on Monday.

A spokesman for ATG said: “We were surprised that the deal couldn’t be completed on Monday given what was finally agreed yesterday.”

He added: “We are particularly pleased that BECTU has recognised the new terms and conditions that have been offered to our front of house staff.”

BECTU said it was “pleased” that a resolution had been reached.

Union official Pat Styles said: “It is clear that our swift and unambiguous behaviour forced the company back to the negotiating table and made them understand they cannot just treat BECTU members as numbers on a balance sheet.”

The resolution includes a pay settlement for 2013 that BECTU said will be put to members in a “consultative ballot” imminently.

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