West End performers and stage managers accept 16% pay rise

West End theatre payThousands of West End theatre actors and stage managers have accepted a 16% pay rise following threat of strike action.

A total of 94.09% of workers, who are represented by performing arts and entertainment trade union Equity, voted to accept the pay deal with the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) from a turnout of 80.35% eligible members.

The deal will see a 9% increase to minimum rates in year one, 5% in year two and at least 2% in year three, subject to inflation. There will be a guaranteed 16.7% increase to minimums within 24 months, and in the event of inflation being higher than 5% in year three, the union will return to the negotiating table.

Stage management will see differentials to increase by the headline percentage each year, while stage management team members covering more senior roles will receive a new weekly responsibility fee of £25 and per show fee.

There will also be a 33% increase to swing fees up to £120 a week, a 21% increase to relocation allowance up to £220 a week, a 12.5% increase to dance captain fees up to £135 a week, a 43% increase to principle or leading role cover fees up to £50 and a 36% increase to supporting role cover fees up to £30.

Sunday performance fees will increase by the headline percentage each year, holiday embargo periods will be specified at point of contract and a working group will be formed to develop models of best practice for a five-day rehearsal week, with a view to trial these this year.

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Paul W Fleming, Equity’s general secretary, said: “This is an excellent deal, and a deal which belongs to our members who have worked so hard to achieve this result and voted for it overwhelmingly. Our strong, constructive, but robust, industrial relations have delivered a meaningful shift in pay and conditions at a time of extraordinary pressure for bosses and workers alike.”

Robert Noble, chair of the SOLT negotiating committee, added: “Given the current economic difficulties facing both SOLT and Equity members, these negotiations were always going to be difficult and challenging. However, through constructive dialogue and a professional approach by all those involved in the negotiation process, a settlement has been reached that 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.”