English National Opera chorus threatens strike action

London (AFP) –


Singers at one of Britain's top opera companies could go on strike in a dispute over jobs and pay after deciding to ballot on industrial action, their union said Monday.

The 43 members of the chorus at the English National Opera (ENO) will decide whether to strike over what their union says will be a 25 percent pay cut and the loss of four jobs.

At a news conference in London, the chorus sang "Hail Poetry" -- an ode to artists -- from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera "The Pirates of Penzance" as they made their case.

"We do understand the ENO has to make savings but what we're not prepared to accept is the destruction of the integrity of the chorus, a world class chorus," said Hilary Hadley of artists' trade union Equity.

"We're going to start the process of balloting for industrial action today because we have no alternative."

The ENO says it is facing a £5 million (6.5 million euro, $7 million) cut to the grant it receives from the government.

The ENO performs operas in English and, along with the Royal Opera House, based in London's Covent Garden, is the leading company in Britain.