Wildcat strike at Paris Opera

A strike at the Paris Opera has forced the cancellation of six shows, including two on Monday, and threatens to cause losses running up to 2.2 million euros (3.1 million dollars) if it continues.

Submitted by Ed on October 30, 2007

Hundreds of ballet dancers, actors and stage hands are adding an artistic flourish to France's grim autumn of industrial strife, by bringing theatrical productions to a halt in protest at the government's attempts to reduce their retirement packages.

The Paris Opera announced the cancellations Monday of Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" at the Opera Bastille and ballets at the Palais Garnier Opera, "Genus" by Briton Wayne McGregor and "Medea's Dream" by French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj.

Almost all employees of the renowned Comédie Française, the national theatre company founded by Molière in 1680, have joined picket lines and performers said that they would continue industrial action until government reform plans were abandoned.

In all six performances have been cancelled since Friday due to a wildcat strike over pension reform, although Sunday's world premiere of McGregor's ballet went ahead as scheduled. The strikers have threatened to continue the action through Wednesday.

Staff at the state-owned Paris Opera and Comedie Francaise joined protests earlier this month over plans by President Nicolas Sarkozy's government to reform special pension benefits enabling early retirement for 500,000 public sector workers.