03/06/2004

Pay row threatens to disrupt 'Paradise'

Industrial action at Belfast's Lyric Theatre could disrupt the world premiere of new production 'Paradise' on June 8.

It is feared that the June 4 preview of the play could also by hit by strike action by Bectu members over a pay dispute.

Members at the theatre voted unanimously in favour of industrial action to unlock pay talks whch have been bogged down since last year.

One of the issues that led to the dispute is staff anger at management for allegedly missing their annual pay rise date twice in a row.

Yearly pay rises have been stretched out at the theatre for up to 18 months, leading to union complaints that members were falling behind the cost of living.

Late last week, union representatives among the Lyric's two dozen Bectu members rejected the offer of an independent review of pay, and named dates for industrial action.

A spokesperson said: "Obviously we wanted to avoid going down the road of strike action, however the theatre has left us with no choice.

"As members of staff we expect to be treated with professional respect - expecting us to be flippant about our futures is nothing short of insulting and unrealistic."

If action goes ahead, Lyric members said they are hoping that other trades unionists in Belfast will show support.

(MB)

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