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Support Royal Opera House Musicians' Campaign for Fair Pay

Musicians are campaigning to have their pay restored to pre-pandemic levels at the Royal Opera House.

Published: 21 September 2023 | 3:50 PM Updated: 21 September 2023 | 5:54 PM
The Royal Opera House orchestra wearing yellow FairPay t-shirts outside of the entrance to the building.
"This situation cannot continue, and this action was a demonstration of the determination of our members to ensure changes happen". Image credit: Jonathan Stewart © The MU.

In 2020, musicians at the Royal Opera House took a 10% pay cut to help the financial situation of the company during the Covid-19 pandemic when the Opera House was closed.

Their pay was never restored to pre-pandemic levels.

To draw attention to their fight to have their pay restored, the Royal Opera House orchestra wore yellow #FairPay t-shirts instead of their usual concert dress during a performance of Das Rheingold on Wednesday 20 September.

Their call was broadcast live to 1,300 cinemas in 20 countries.

Back the campaign for fair pay at the Royal Opera House

Please show your support for the orchestra by posting a message of solidarity with Royal Opera House musicians using the hashtag #FairPay.

Remember to mention @WeAreTheMU on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok or @Musicians.Union on Facebook so that we can share your message of solidarity with the Royal Opera House musicians.

Royal Opera House musicians are earning less than they did in 2015

MU Regional Organiser for London Jamie Pullman says:

“We have been in negotiations for many months regarding the 10% pay cut that the musicians at the Royal Opera House took during Covid when the Opera House was closed. It has got to the point at which our members felt they had to make a public demonstration of their frustration

“They all love the Royal Opera House and want it to flourish but they are also having to work double the number of weekends that they used to and, in cash terms, they are now earning less than they did in 2015.

“This situation cannot continue, and this action was a demonstration of the determination of our members to ensure changes happen.”

Extras and Deputies for the Royal Opera House, who took their own pay cut during the pandemic, could also benefit from an improved pay offer to the orchestra.

Taking action after nearly 12 months of pay negotiations

MU Steward for the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Nigel Charman says:

“Reluctantly, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House chose to take action short of strike last night at the performance of Wagner’s Das Rhinegold.

“During the performance, members of the orchestra wore yellow t-shirts with the phrase "#FairPay" instead of our usual concert dress. Extras and Deputies wore yellow ribbons to show their support.

“Before the performance, orchestra players distributed leaflets to members of the audience as they arrived and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Audience members we spoke to were very supportive of the players and we have received many messages of support on social media.

“Musicians in the orchestra, supported by the MU, have been in pay negotiations with Royal Opera House management for nearly 12 months. We want the 10% pay cut and changes to our terms and conditions agreed to during the Covid pandemic to be reversed and restored to pre-pandemic levels alongside a fair increase in our salaries in line with inflation.

“Negotiations are continuing.”

Thank you for your support so far

Thanks to everyone who's posted a message of solidarity so far.

Scroll through some of the messages below, or head to the MU's Twitter feed for more.

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