English National Opera chorus plans silent protest over wage cuts and redundancies

The organisation says it must make several singers redundant and cut pay for remaining members by 25%

English National Opera is facing bankruptcy unless it slashes the salaries of the chorus and makes some of them redundant, managers have warned ahead of industrial action this week. On Friday, the 43-strong chorus will hold a novel form of a strike by refusing to sing during part of the final performance of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten.

The organisation, known as the ENO, has said it must make several singers redundant and cut pay for remaining members by 25 per cent and put them on nine-month, rather than full-year, contracts.

A spokesman for the ENO told The Stage magazine: “We are confident that the plans put forward to [unions] BECTU, Equity and the MU are essential to ensure the future of ENO.

"Without a fundamental shift in our business plan, and a move towards seasonal contracts, we put the future of the company at grave risk of bankruptcy.”

The livelihoods of “many more ENO employees in years to come” would be put in danger unless the changes were made, the spokesman stressed. “We have explored every option available to us,” he added. “We feel that the proposed plans safeguard the maximum number of jobs.”

Last month, a member of the chorus told The Independent that” We are fighting as hard as we can. We love our jobs and ENO, so we’re doing what we can. But we won’t be exploited.”

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