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Musicians’ Union Strike Action at English National Opera Makes Headlines in BBC News, Guardian, Telegraph and More

Did you see the news? On 17 January, the Musicians’ Union announced the first strike by members for 44 years.

Published: 23 January 2024 | 3:01 PM
Double bass on it's side with a white t-shirt draped over it saying #weareeno with the MU logo underneath.
News of the strike has made headlines in the UK and around the world. Image credit: Jonathan Stewart © The MU.

Musicians and music staff at English National Opera are going on strike on 1 February, to coincide with opening night of The Handmaid’s Tale.

It’s the first strike by Musicians’ Union members since 1980. And it made headlines in the UK and around the world.

The story first broke on BBC News just before noon and was covered by the news channel throughout the day. A clip of the coverage has been over 22k times on Instagram so far.


It was also covered by BBC News online.

Speaking to musicians affected

The Guardian put their story on the strikes on the front page, in a landmark moment for the union. This led to the issue being discussed on Jeremy Vine on 5.


Guardian journalists Nadia Khomami and Lanre Bakare also spoke to violinist and MU Steward Glen Sheldon about how musicians in the orchestra are feeling.

In an anonymous testimonial, one musician revealed, “I’d actually be better off finding year-round work at the London living wage than what ENO are now offering.”

Another musician said, “I do not believe that those responsible for these cuts have any idea of the damage they will inflict on this company, the individuals affected, and the wider industry as a whole.”

Bringing people of every political persuasion together

Industrial action at ENO was also covered by The Telegraph online and in print. Speaking to Craig Simpson, MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl said: “it’s hard to see how they will make ends meet with half a job.”


While a report in the Daily Mail claimed that ENO were “scrambling” to put a performance together on strike day, it also shared the MU and Equity’s calls for solidarity with striking workers.

MU members will be joined on strike by Equity members in the ENO Chorus. Stage management will also be affected.

Coverage across the UK and around the world

News of the first strike by Musicians’ Union members since 1980 was featured in The Times, Evening StandardThe IndependentEuronews and 180 local news websites.

It was also featured in The Stage, Arts Professional, Classical Music, Opera Wire, and Broadway World.

Show your support for musicians and music staff at ENO

Musicians and music staff will be taking action short of strike on Tuesday 30 January, and full strike action on Thursday 1 February.

Show your support!

  • Share a message of solidarity on social media using the hashtag #WeAreENO
  • Are you heading to the preview of The Handmaid’s Tale on Tuesday 30 January? Pick up a leaflet on your way in and hold it up during the curtain call to show management your support for the orchestra and music staff

Look out for more, including further coverage and graphics to share on social media, later in the week.


Learn more about industrial action at English National Opera and how we got here.

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