Sabotage hits opera house

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The Independent Online
THE ROYAL Opera House has become the latest high-profile construction project in London to be the victim of sabotage, it was revealed yesterday.

Mystery saboteurs struck at the pounds 210m redevelopment at Covent Garden, damaging the scheme's fire protection system and forcing contractors to lose at least a day's building work.

The incident led to the site's closure and has caused an internal investigation by the construction management firm Schal, which said that tight security meant it was unlikely an outsider could have carried out the vandalism.

The attack, to cabling that forms part of safety equipment, comes after suspected sabotage on the Jubilee Line extension to the London underground last month, although the attacks are not thought to be related.

News of the Royal Opera House sabotage, which happened last week, features in today's issue of the trade magazine Building. The deputy editor, Giles Barrie, said time-sensitive high-profile projects were extremely vulnerable to industrial problems. He said: "The closer we get to the deadline the more bargaining power workers, especially specialists like electricians who cannot be replaced, will have."

In August, Schal, which has not called in the police, admitted problems with the Royal Opera House's fly tower, blaming the contractor Bison. And in September 150 electricians walked out for two days, complaining that the 700 workers had just eight working toilets and only one canteen area, capable of housing 72 people.