The changes are designed to enable Theatres to re-open as soon as is practicable, and to help the industry re-build and re-establish rewarding, sustainable and secure employment.
The agreement was formally endorsed by Equity following a ballot of Equity West End membership in which a substantial majority agreed to the adoption of the temporary measures.
The variations seek to protect pre-Covid-19 base salary levels through provisions which will assist the possible scheduling of performances on Sundays, and for the pro-rating of pay should fewer weekly performances be necessary due to constrained demand and/or other reasons related to Covid-19. The provisions are regarded as being the minimum that is required in order to re-open West End Theatres and many of them will fall away once social distancing is relaxed and audience levels are able to grow. The Agreement could last until the end of the current term of the West End Agreement. but is subject to a regular review process during this period.
Robert Noble Chair of the SOLT Negotiating Committee said:
"Neither SOLT nor Equity could have ever have thought that we would have had to consider these kind of measures considering the decimation of our industry; but both parties hope that in effect, we will be able to maintain current salaries in the event of a speedy return to business, and if the return of business is not speedy, then this agreement will provide as much protection that can be provided for both employees and employers whilst our industry rebuilds itself back to Pre Covid 19 levels.
Hilary Hadley, Equity's Assistant General Secretary, Live Performance said:
"None of us could have envisaged the effects of this pandemic on our industry which has been decimated since March 16th, nor that we would need a succession of Variation Agreements to help our West End members survive this ever-lengthening period. We are pleased that our members have carefully considered all the information provided by the Union and have voted yes to this new Agreement following our recommendation. It provides a basis for the earliest return to work, whilst protecting the integrity of our West End Agreement for the future once this miserable period comes to an end."