National Theatre redundancies decision premature and government must step up, says Bectu

21 May 2020

The National Theatre, where Bectu has formal recognition, has informed staff that it is looking to make 20-30% of its workforce redundant.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said in response:

“This is devastating news for all staff at the National Theatre and the wider theatre industry. Bectu believes that this decision is premature and the National should continue to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) rather than pre-empting further decisions regarding the scheme from the Chancellor. In the short-term government must bring clarity to how the CJRS will continue to operate to stop employers taking such serious decisions.

“However, we are aware that many theatres across the country are weighing up their options and considering how they can continue to operate in the future. This latest news demonstrates how deeply concerned theatres are about their finances in the future.

“The workforce is also acutely aware of this which was reflected in a recent consultation of 750 theatre workers who outlined fears of: being forgotten by government as the furlough scheme comes to an end as well as mass unemployment.

“The number of industry voices calling for direct government intervention to help theatres survive the unfolding catastrophe caused by COVID-19 is growing each day. The cost of this crisis can’t be shouldered by the workforce. Government must step-up and urgently provide an effective recovery plan to reassure employers that they don’t have to take such drastic decisions.”