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Shakespeare’s Globe tour guide strike: dates set

Shakespeare's Globe in London. Photo: Lance Bellers/Shutterstock Shakespeare's Globe. Photo: Lance Bellers/Shutterstock
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Dates have been set for two days of strikes at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Tour guides working at the venue will strike on May 18 and June 1, following a dispute over pay.

In total, there are 38 tour guides who work for the venue. All of them are members of backstage union BECTU, which has been embroiled in a dispute with the theatre since the end of last year. On May 18, eight guides were scheduled to work and will now strike instead. The rota for June 1 has not yet been set.

The union is seeking an increase that would take tour guides’ pay from £11.24 an hour to £13.50 an hour, alongside further rises over the next three years.

The Globe has maintained throughout that it pays its tour guides favourably in comparison with other venues, and that it will carry out its own pay review in the summer.

Earlier this month, the two parties met at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service in a last-ditch attempt to prevent strike action, which tour guides had voted in favour of after failing to secure a pay increase. However, talks broke down and plans for strikes were announced.

BECTU national Official Pat Styles said at the time: “We had hoped that management would take seriously the opportunity we offered to them to avoid conflict following the overwhelming mandate for strike action we were given by our members. Unfortunately, management representatives failed to grasp this opportunity, preferring instead to first offer our members what was effectively an insulting cut in pay and then refusing to accept various solutions we offered to them that would have met with the Globe’s policy on pay.”

A spokeswoman for the Globe previously said that a “benchmarking exercise is the only viable means of establishing an appropriate rate of pay for guides”, that is consistent with its policy to pay at industry median levels.

The spokeswoman added that the Globe had “made all reasonable efforts to avert industrial action” and insisted that arrangements were in placed to ensure that visitors could access the theatre, using specially developed audio-guides instead.