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General strike at the English National Opera, a first in 44 years

Singers and musicians from the English National Opera have decided not to take the stage during a performance on February 1, to protest against management's plan to reduce staff numbers and change their working conditions, their representatives announced.

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General strike at the English National Opera, a first in 44 years

Singers and musicians from the English National Opera have decided not to take the stage during a performance on February 1, to protest against management's plan to reduce staff numbers and change their working conditions, their representatives announced. unions on Wednesday.

Members of the chorus and orchestra of English National Opera (ENO), one of the country's leading opera companies, have voted to strike on the day of the premiere of a production adapted from the novel The Handmaid's Tale, likely leading to its cancellation. They are opposed, according to the musicians' union (MU) and that of actors, Equity (Equity), to the “firing and rehiring” plan of the opera management. Under these conditions, choristers and musicians could be dismissed then rehired to work only six months a year, while others would be offered to work with independent status.

According to Equity general secretary Paul Fleming, management is proposing “to reduce salaries by 40% and not to create permanent jobs in the new Manchester base”. The company announced at the end of last year the relocation of part of its activities to Manchester, after Arts Council England threatened to remove its annual grant of 12 million pounds (14 million euros) if it did not leave the capital. After this announcement, the musical director of the opera announced his resignation in October reports The Guardian.

According to Naomi Pohl, general secretary of the musicians' union, this is the first strike of this trade since 1980. "The management has decided to reduce the working hours of our members to six months per year, which which risks leading to the disappearance of a wonderful, talented and specialized orchestra,” she regretted.

"Having received assurances that no action would be taken to harm the company, we are saddened that the action chosen (by the strikers) appears specifically designed to cause the greatest harm to both the company and to our audience,” declared the opera management in a press release.

Over the past two years, soaring prices in the United Kingdom have caused strikes affecting many sectors, including public services such as transport, health and education.

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