Barcelona (ACN).- After two months of intense and tense negotiations, the management and workers of the Barcelona Liceu Opera Theatre have reached an agreement in order to reduce the deficit and continue with the planned season. Liceu management has accepted the workers’ proposal to continue with the season and temporarily give up their extra summer payment –which is not a bonus but part of their regular salary–. Following the agreement, the management will not proceed with the announced temporary mass lay off of 90% of the staff for 2 months this spring, which meant closing the theatre during this period. In exchange, workers’ representatives have confirmed they will not organise any strike or protest. Therefore, the Gran Teatre del Liceu’s season is safe and will develop as scheduled. The only opera that might be cancelled is ‘A Florentine Tragedy’ (Eine Florentinische Tragödie), scheduled in April, because it coincided with the possible period of closure for the theatre. However, the most immediate and positive consequence of the agreement is that the Barcelona theatre’s next opera, La Bohème, will begin as planned next Monday.
The Liceu workers’ representatives have cancelled the strike organised for next Monday, coinciding with the premiere of ‘La Bohème’. The workers insisted in continuing with the regular season and proposed a reduction of their salaries this year. Initially, the theatre’s management did not accept it and proposed a temporary lay off. Liceu’s management was planning to close the theatre and lay off 92% of staff between March 20th and April 19th, and between June 5th and July 8th.
After two months of negotiations and protests, and a public demand that Barcelona’s Opera season continue, the theatre’s management agreed on the workers’ initiative. The 450 workers will not receive their extra summer payment this year, and will be reimbursed at a later date in the future, although they have not agreed on the terms yet. This will save €1.5 million this year, which corresponds to the amount of money the Catalan Government has reduced from its financial contribution to the theatre’s budget.
Nonetheless, the Chairman of the workers’ committee, Manuel Martínez, is said to be “surprised” on why their proposal “is now accepted and was not a month earlier”, when it was first put on the table. The representatives of the 450 workers believe that the action could lead to the resignation of some of members of the theatre’s management.
The Catalan Minister for Culture, Ferran Mascarell, is said to be very satisfied with the agreement. “The prestige and the future of the theatre have gone before individual interests”, he stated. Mascarell congratulated everybody working at the Gran Teatre del Liceu. He also said that the agreement “makes the Liceu stronger” as no deadweight will have to be dragged in future seasons in the form of a deficit, “which without any doubt might have put the quality of the programme and activities at risk”.