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UK Theatre and BECTU meet at Acas to resolve ongoing pay dispute

UK Theatre and BECTU have met at Acas to agree a new pay deal for offstage workers. Photo: Antb/Shutterstock
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UK Theatre and union BECTU have failed to resolve an ongoing dispute over pay despite enlisting industrial arbitration service Acas.

Both bodies met at Acas earlier this month in a bid to resolve the dispute, which had left the organisations at loggerheads.

As previously reported by The Stage, the two parties have been unable to agree to updates to the UK Theatre/BECTU Agreement, which covers offstage staff at most commercial and subsidised theatres outside of London.

BECTU previously accused UK Theatre of “turning its back” on the agreement and having a “callous disregard” for workers by refusing to agree to pay increases set out by the union. BECTU said it has been seeking uplifts to the UK Theatre Agreement since 2017, including annual pay rises for staff at 124 UK theatres.

However, UK Theatre previously argued that BECTU had “refused outright” to agree to a series of proposals that “would have delivered the real living wage and substantial pay increases”. UK Theatre wants to “modernise” the agreement, but said BECTU was not agreeing to proposed revisions.

At the meeting at Acas, BECTU reportedly reduced its demand for a 5% increase in rates for some grades to 3%.

The 3% increase also applies to meal and subsistence allowances.

However, in a statement UK Theatre said it was “very unlikely” that a deal will be reached with BECTU.

UK Theatre said: “In that event the terms of the UK Theatre/BECTU agreement will continue to apply going forward but other than revising minimum rates of pay to meet statutory requirements, all other rates and allowances and general terms of the agreement will remain unchanged,” it said.

It added: “UK Theatre has made it very clear to BECTU for some time that the UK Theatre/BECTU agreement had to be modernised and it continues to seek to engage with BECTY in order to manage this matter and maintain and ongoing relationship.”

BECTU said it was “committed to the idea of modernising the agreement” and that it wanted to find an “amicable way forward”.

“But this cannot be at the overall detriment of our members income,” it added.

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