Royal Opera Orchestra Votes in Favor of Strike

By Francisco Salazar

The Royal Opera’s orchestra members have voted in favor of potential strike action in a ballot that closed on July 17.

According to the Musicians’ Union, the orchestra voted 89.87 percent in favor, based on a turnout of 92.94 percent.

The decision was made due to the salary that the orchestra is currently being paid. The members are asking for their salaries to return to pre-COVID level. According to reports, the Royal Opera House orchestra was asked to make a number of concessions during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep the company afloat whilst live performances were halted for public health reasons.

Following the pandemic, the orchestra argues that other orchestras have already returned to pre-Covid levels and that the 10% pay cut that the players took in the ROH orchestra remains in force.

The orchestra members also noted that they understand that the ROH is under pressure due to the funding cuts imposed by Arts Council England and the need to repay Coronavirus Business Loans to the Government. However, the musicians noted that they want the company to commit to returning to pre-COVID levels over time when funds are available.

In addition to wages, the orchestra raised the issue of work-life balance and the impact on family life as part of the negotiations.

In a statement, Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary said, “This was a conclusive ballot result which shows the strength of feeling among our members at ROH. They are being reasonable in their requests. Far from demanding their pay be restored to pre-pandemic levels now, they are asking for a plan to get there over time.”