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Shows will go on: West End strike risk lifted after pay deal

Theatres on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue at night  (Rick Findler/PA)
Theatres on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue at night (Rick Findler/PA)

The threat of strike action closing West End shows has been lifted after Equity members agreed to a new pay deal with theatre bosses.

About 94 per cent of West End members who voted backed the deal with the Society of London Theatre, which will see them get 16.7 per cent pay rises over the next two years.

Some members including understudies could be in line for up to a 43 per cent rise in payments with plans to look at introducing five day weeks for rehearsals also being considered and expected to be trialled soon.

It comes after a high profile campaign urging members to “stand up for 17 per cent” that was backed by cast members in sell out shows such as Frozen, Moulin Rouge and Cabaret.

Equity’s general secretary Paul W Fleming said: “We set out for 17 per cent, and won at least 16.7 per cent over 24 months. Critically too, we won increases for theatre’s pandemic heroes ... with rises of between 32 per cent and 42 per cent in the payments which recognise their responsibilities.”

The union had warned strike action was possible after a survey of its members found 45 per cent had a second job while 60 per cent considered quitting the industry in the last three years.

Robert Noble, chairman of the society’s negotiating committee, said: “A settlement has been reached which acknowledges the commitment and support shown by Equity members during the pandemic and seeks to address as far as is possible, the continuing economic challenge that we all continue to face.”