West End theatre performers threaten strike action as union puts in 17% pay claim

West End strike threat: A recent survey found that two thirds of West End Equity members are considering leaving the industry

West End theatre performers could walk out on strike if their pay demands are not met, the trade union Equity says.

The union has put in a 17% pay claim for thousands of its members to the Society of London Theatre (SOLT).

Other demands include a five-day rehearsal week as opposed to the current six days, and an increase in holiday entitlement from 28 days to 34.

All theatre shows could be hit by any industrial action, which would take place around Easter if no agreement is reached.

West End performers are demanding a 17% pay increase, union says. Credit: Getty Images

This comes as a survey found that two thirds of West End members are considering leaving the industry and almost half (45%) have a second job to pay the bills.

More than half of West End performers receive the existing union-agreed minimum wage, which is £629.41 a week.

Theatres across the UK generated ticket revenues of £1.28bn in 2018, according to UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre.

Danny Mac, who recently starred in Pretty Woman, shared his support for the #StandUpFor17 campaign on social media.

He wrote: “As a proud member of the British theatre community, I am standing with my friends & colleagues - past, present and future- in support of all of those onstage, in stage management and across the industry who simply aren’t paid enough to get by.

“I’ve been blessed in recent years to gain roles which have supported me and my family financially- however I am speaking up for the future of the industry and those who work multiple jobs and still can’t pay their bills.

“It is essential to re-evaluate the minimum wages within our industry & #StandUpFor17.”

West End star Danny Mac supports the #StandUpfor17 campaign. Credit: Getty Images

Talks between the union and SOLT are set to start in February with hopes of a deal being agreed by April with any industrial action likely to hit theatres around Easter if the sides can not come to an agreement.

Equity general secretary Paul W Fleming said it was time theatre bosses put the “focus on the workforce”.

He said: “Our members made a lot of sacrifices during Covid to protect the industry and the producers and that was the right thing to do and that goodwill now has to come back in our direction with a meaningful pay settlement.”

A spokesperson for SOLT said: "As we enter this year’s negotiations, we are keen to build on our already constructive relationship with Equity to achieve a sustainable outcome."