Equity Rallies Support For Welsh National Opera Chorus at Conference

The annual conference, attended by representative members, is where the union sets its agenda for the forthcoming year.

By: May. 19, 2024
Equity Rallies Support For Welsh National Opera Chorus at Conference
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An emergency motion to “provide whatever support is required” for a campaign to stop cuts and redundancies to the Welsh National Opera chorus passed unanimously today at Equity conference (#EquityConference2024). The annual conference, attended by representative members, is where the union sets its agenda for the forthcoming year.

At Birmingham’s historic Town Hall where the conference is being held, Equity conference delegates held placards and chanted “Save our WNO!”

The motion also reiterated that the union “will not accept compulsory redundancies, or the desire by WNO management to have the flexibility of a full-time contract with all the precarity of an unsustainable cut to their basic earnings.”

WNO management are looking to reduce the current full-time contracts of chorus members to 45 weeks with an estimated cut in base salary of at least 15% a year. In addition, they are seeking to reduce and rebalance the size of the chorus, already under resourced, with a process which can only lead to the real threat of compulsory redundancy.

Hywel Morgan, Equity Councillor (member of union’s governing Council made up of elected members), who moved the motion, said: “A year on from conference 2023, we are once again rallying behind the plight of our members working within opera. This time the attack on terms and conditions of members working at Welsh National Opera, coming as a direct result of cuts to their funding from Arts Council England and Arts Council Wales. There continues to be a significant chasm between the views of the workforce and the views of the funders as to who opera is for. We know that opera should be for everyone, as both an artform and a sustainable career choice… As this motion asks, we send to them a resounding message of solidarity from conference today.”

Read the emergency motion full text below:

Conference is concerned that the continued impact of cuts to arts funding, and particularly to the substantial underfunding of opera in England and Wales, is impacting the job security of our members working full-time in the Chorus of Welsh National Opera (WNO).

As a result of these cuts, WNO management are looking to reduce the current full-time contracts of our members with an estimated cut in base salary of at least 15% a year. In addition, they are seeking to reduce and rebalance the size of the chorus with a process which can only lead to the real threat of compulsory redundancy. 

The chorus of WNO was built from the communities of Wales, and it was on that strength that WNO’s reputation was founded almost 80 years ago. The many dedicated Equity members, for whom the survival of “their” company is a passion, a crusade, and a fight against sometimes daunting odds, need support in their fight against this attack on their pay and conditions.

Conference sends a message of solidarity to our members at WNO and asks Council to continue to provide whatever support is required as they seek to amplify the campaign that they, with our support, will not accept compulsory redundancies, or the desire by WNO management to have the flexibility of a full-time contract with all the precarity of an unsustainable cut to their basic earnings.

Our members’ resistance to the current proposals cannot, and will not, be contingent on the decisions of funders.

#SaveOurWNO #AchubOCC 

About Equity

Equity is the performing arts and entertainment trade union. It is made up of 50,000 performers and creative practitioners, united in the fight for fair terms and conditions in the workplace. We are actors, singers, dancers, designers, directors, stage managers, puppeteers, comedians, voice artists, and variety performers.



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