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19.6.04

Calling the Intermittents

This is Edinburgh, Scotland, calling, specifically the disgruntled members of the Scottish Opera Chorus. They claim that ten minutes before they were to go onstage for Puccini's La Bohème, management announced that budget cutbacks meant that many of them were going to be laid off. After this performance, in fact. Now, break a leg! According to this article (Confusion over opera chorus jobs, June 18) from BBC News, management denies any such dramatic incident.

"Unfortunately, the chorus may be made redundant," [said the Scottish Tories culture spokesman, Jamie McGrigor.] "One only had to listen to the superb demonstration of musical talent that attracted a large crowd on the Royal Mile to see the excellence that is being threatened." Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan condemned the sackings saying it was a "disgraceful way to treat workers." He added: "The Scottish Socialists have pledged our support to the campaign of the Scottish Opera chorus for their jobs. It is completely unacceptable that trade union members are being sacked by a publicly funded body with a Labour minister in control of the purse strings. Yet again trade unionists can see for themselves that New Labour cares nothing for the rights of workers."
This follows the announcement that there would be some jobs lost, as part of a plan to save money by cancelling "all full-scale performances for an entire season . . . a 'dark' season between summer 2005 and spring 2006," sacrifices that are expected to save the opera up to £7 million (reported by Phil Miller, Chorus of anger at Scottish Opera cutbacks, June 8, in The Glasgow Herald).

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