Australian Ballet dancers put foot down with rare action over pay

The Australian Ballet will delay a performance in Melbourne as dancers take industrial action.

The Australian Ballet will delay a performance in Melbourne as dancers take industrial action. Photo: AAP

The Australian Ballet will delay its Friday night performance in Melbourne as dancers take industrial action over stalled pay negotiations.

It is the first time in more than 20 years dancers at the national company have taken industrial action

The dancers will “hold the curtain” for 15 minutes at their performance of Identity at the State Theatre.

Pay negotiations began in September, but have hit a stalemate over measures to ensure dancers’ pay keeps up with inflation.

“Dancers regret that this action is necessary and the disruption it will cause to enjoyment of Friday night’s performance, but they want the ballet audience to be aware of how management is trying to cut their future pay,” Michelle Rae from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance said.

Dancers agreed to reduce their wages for part of 2020 during the pandemic and forgo pay rises due in 2021.

“Many had to dip into their savings during the pandemic and today they are living a hand-to-mouth existence,” Ms Rae said.

The Australian Ballet said the disruption was regrettable but it respects dancers’ rights to take protected industrial action.

It has postponed a free showing of a new work, Clarifying Carbon by choreographer Serena Graham, as it expects the delay could extend to 25 minutes.

The dancers received a 4.3 per cent pay increase in February, a spokesperson for the company said.

A further one per cent has been offered for 2023 with 3.5 per cent for 2024 and 2.5 per cent for 2025.

The last two pay rises would come with an additional capped inflation increase of half a per cent.

In May, 91 per cent of dancers at the company voted to take industrial action, which could escalate to a full strike.


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.