Strike averted in Bayreuth

25th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

There had been concern that a strike by the festival's 140 largely seasonal stage and technical staff would jeopardise the glitzy opening night, attended by Germany's political and social elite.

Bayreuth -- The show will go on at the Bayreuth Festival this weekend, after unions and management reached a pay deal for stage and technical staff, the Verdi services sector union said Friday.

"Following long and intensive negotiations, Verdi and the management reached agreed on a wage contract for employees on Thursday evening," the union said in a brief statement.

"After approval by the union's wage committee and the festival's supervisory board, the agreement was able to be signed at midday Friday."

Under the terms of the deal, the festival's technical and administrative employees would be paid wages in line with the norm in the sector, the statement said.

In addition, employees would be paid extra for the heavy workload required of them during the month-long festival, as well as a bonus to compensate for the short-term nature of their contracts, the union said.

"Overall, we're very satisfied that we are able to reach binding pay rules for our members," said union negotiator Hans Kraft.

The curtain is set to rise on the 98th edition of the world's oldest and most prestigious summer music festival on Saturday.

There had been concern that a strike by the festival's 140 largely seasonal stage and technical staff would jeopardise the glitzy opening night, attended by Germany's political and social elite.

Pay on Bayreuth's legendary "Green Hill" -- including for singers, musicians and conductors -- has traditionally been well below levels paid in other leading opera houses around the world, because it was always considered an privilege to work there.

The "non-artistic" staff, from programme-sellers to electricians, are given their own special performances, an annual trip and a Christmas party.

"You can have anything you want, just not more money," Wolfgang Wagner once famously quipped.

But the composer's grandson stepped down as festival director last year after 57 years in the position, handing over the reins to his two daughters, Eva Wagner-Pasquier, 64, and Katharina Wagner, 31.

The opening night will comprise a performance of "Tristan and Isolde" in a staging by Swiss director Christoph Marthaler.

AFP/Expatica

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