Bectu members vote to reject pay offer for London’s West End

13 July 2022

Bectu members in London’s West End have voted overwhelmingly to reject the Society of London Theatres’ (SOLT) recent pay offer. 98.6% voted to reject the offer, with 1.4% voting to accept.Although the SOLT/Bectu Covid-19 Variation Agreement currently remains in operation, SOLT responded to Bectu’s recent pay claim proposing a 10% increase to the minimum rates in the agreement.

Bectu recommended that its members vote to reject the pay offer due to unacceptable strings attached to the pay offer, including the proposal that there will be no further review of the SOLT/Bectu Agreement until 2025, the inclusion of Sunday working remaining at 0.5T on top with no opt out, and the inclusion of duties that pre-pandemic, Bectu would have negotiated for an additional payment or bonus. Read more about the pay offer here.

Bectu has advised SOLT of the results of the consultative ballot and will meet with SOLT this week to discuss a way forward and try to reach a pay offer without strings attached.

Bectu will also be seeking a commitment from SOLT to further meaningful engagement on long hours and weekend working as well as looking at the whole of the SOLT/Bectu Agreement with a view to implementation in June 2023.

Commenting on the ballot result, Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“Our members have been very clear in this ballot result – they want a decent pay offer with no strings attached, that ensures that Bectu can continue to review and negotiate improvements to the agreement in the coming years. We look forward to meeting with SOLT this week to discuss a way forward.

“Bectu has been clear from the beginning that SOLT must urgently address the long hours culture, work/life balance and the 6-day working for show staff in the West End.  Our members need an agreement that covers a number of grades (such as chaperones and sound roles) that are currently excluded, leaving many Bectu members out on a limb.

“Bectu members agreed to a number of Covid variations to help the industry survive at a time of crisis. We’re disappointed that some employers are now attempting to implement some of those changes for good, to the detriment of our members’ pay, physical health and mental wellbeing.

“The theatre industry is facing huge problems with skilled staff shortages, both back of house and front of house, and many that returned to the industry post-Covid have subsequently left. We know this is because people are finding work elsewhere with less stress, fewer and more sociable hours and more money. It’s time to meet these issues head on with an agreement that addresses our members’ concerns and is fit for the future to ensure the West End, and its staff, thrive for years to come.”